Judiciary Announces Arrests of Election Campaign Staff One Week After Rouhani’s Criticism
A week after incumbent President Hassan Rouhani criticized Iran’s hardline judiciary, its spokesman has announced that dozens of government officials will face possible prosecution for unspecified election campaign violations.
“More than 60 managers in the government and executive branch, including those at the city, county and provincial levels of government, have made election violations and their cases are being processed by judges and prosecutors,” said Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei on May 16, 2017—three days before the vote for president and local councils.
“There has been a very high number of election violations,” claimed Ejei. “Government officials should be careful not to do anything out of the ordinary against the law.”
Ejei, who is also the first assistant judiciary chief, did not provide any details on who will be arrested or what laws they have allegedly violated.
Ejei also claimed campaign staffers have been arrested for allegedly trying to steal documents, but did not provide specifics.
“One of the candidates was seeking to gain access to documents against one of his rivals and asked some people working in the campaign office to steal them,” he said. “A number of people have been arrested for this matter.”
Two days earlier, on May 14, Ejei rejected criticism of the judiciary by President Hassan Rouhani and his supporters for the high number of death penalty sentences issued after the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.
“The people of Iran are saying they don’t accept those who only hung and imprisoned people for the past 38 years,” said Rouhani at a campaign rally on May 8, indirectly referencing his conservative rival Ebrahim Raisi, who sent thousands of political prisoners to their deaths byway of execution when he served on a special committee in 1988.
“Certainly the judiciary is proud to have confronted corrupt criminals, terrorists and disruptors of peace and security during the past 38 years,” said Ejei on May 14 in response to Rouhani’s comment.
“It’s unfortunate that in order to gather votes, some candidates have forgotten their own past,” he added. “They have forgotten the time when they demanded that some prisoners be executed in public.”
Ejei was referring to comments made by Rouhani in July 1980 when, as a member of Parliament, he called for “the execution of plotters in the presence of the people at Friday Prayers in order to leave a stronger impact.”