18 Jun 2009

Leading dissidents seized as Iran crackdown intensifies

9:49 pm on 18 June 2009

Two leading Iranian dissidents have been arrested in a massive crackdown on the opposition protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election.

Ebrahim Yazdi and Mohammad Tavasoli, veteran revolutionaries and leaders of Iran's Liberation Movement, were arrested on Wednesday, according to the pro-reform newspaper Etemad Meli.

Unofficial reports said Mr Yazdi had been detained at a hospital emergency unit.

The Iranian authorities have rounded up scores of reformists, including journalists and high-ranking former officials, since protests erupted over Mr Ahmadinejad's election win last Friday.

Hundreds of protesters have also been detained in Tehran - the epicentre of the protests - and in other cities. It's the country's biggest crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Day of mourning for slain protesters

In defiance of an official ban, defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has issued a statement on his movement's website calling on supporters to take to the streets again on Thursday and hold a day of mourning for slain protesters.

Tens of thousands of Mousavi supporters wearing green wrist- or head-bands marched through central Tehran on Wednesday in what was billed as a "silent" protest rally. State television broadcast brief footage of it.

At least seven people have been killed and many more wounded in clashes with the police.

Websites, bloggers, media under fresh threat

The Iranian government has complained to some foreign ambassadors about what it calls "intolerable interference" in Iran's internal affairs.

Legal action has also been threatened against websites publishing material that "creates tensions", and foreign media, already facing tight restrictions on their work, have been given a fresh warning.

The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders says a dozen Iranian journalists and bloggers have been arrested and many others are in hiding.

Mr Ahmadinejad remains defiant, saying his victory showed faith in his government of "honesty and service to the people".