Conflicting Reports on Iranian Opposition Leaders’ Freedom From House Arrest
A member of Iran’s Parliament has denied reports that the country’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has ruled to end the seven-year-long house arrests of political opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Zahra Rahnavard.
Karroubi’s son, Hossein Karroubi, told Ensaf News on July 28, 2018, that he had been informed by a “reliable source close to” First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri that the SNSC had made the decision during its latest meeting and was seeking final approval from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“The SNSC is waiting for the leader to express his view on this matter. They say if the leader doesn’t respond in 10 days, the decision becomes enforceable,” he said.
The next day, reformist member of Parliament (MP) Gholamreza Heydari denied that any decision had been made to free the opposition leaders, who have been confined to their homes in Tehran in almost total isolation since February 2011 for leading mass protests against the disputed result of the 2009 presidential election.
The three have never been charged or condemned in a court of law.
“I followed up with the Parliament Speaker [Ali Larijani] and unfortunately, he did not confirm the report,” said Heydari on July 29.
“We had also heard things and were hoping that they were true because ending the house arrests is one of the most necessary things for the country’s national interests in these discouraging times of tension and conflict,” he added.
On July 28, the Fars News Agency, which maintains ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), published a commentary stating that if the report were true, it meant the opposition leaders had agreed not to break the law and their freedom “would not cause insecurity in society.”
But on July 29 Fars blamed “anti-revolutionary media” for “widely spreading rumors,” adding, “Society is facing much more important issues than things like house arrests.”
Reports have circulated in Iranian media over the years quoting senior officials suggesting that the three opposition leaders have been told that they could be freed if they agree to apologize for leading the 2009 protests.
Karroubi and Mousavi, both former presidential candidates, and activist Rahnavard (Mousavi’s wife) have been kept isolated from most of the world apart from security agents and few family members due to the wishes of the supreme leader, according to these reports.
In an open letter published on May 30, 2018, Karroubi, 80, wondered if he, Mousavi, and Rahnavard would ever be freed.
“This illegal and unauthorized house arrest has been going on for eight years and apparently there’s no end to this arrogant action,” wrote Karroubi in the letter published by Saham News.
“No one considers himself accountable,” he added. “The way things are going, it seems our fate will be determined by the angel of death, Azrael. Either we will go first [from this world] or the other,” he wrote addressing members of the National Trust Party’s central committee.