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Rights Group: Iran Seizes Reformists

International human rights organizations said Wednesday that many prominent activists and politicians have been arrested in Iran in response to protests over the country's disputed presidential election.

Hadi Ghaemi, director of the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights, said he had spoken with family members and colleagues of people who have been arrested or disappeared and was told that there were at least 200 across the country.

The Associated Press could not independently confirm the rights groups' reports due to government restrictions on reporting inside the country. The Iranian government has said that it has arrested a relatively small number of people responsible for violence and other crimes.

Meanwhile, supporters of reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi took to the streets of Tehran Thursday for the fourth straight day.

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Iranian analyst Saeed Leilaz was arrested Wednesday by plainclothes security officers at his home, said his wife, Sepehrnaz Panahi. Ghaemi said that Mohammad-Reza Jalaipour, another noted Iranian analyst, was detained.

The BBC's Farsi-language news site said Jalaipour is a student at Oxford and was arrested at the airport upon trying to leave Iran with his wife, Fatemeh Shams. A plainclothes officer did not give a reason for the arrest, Shams told the BBC.

Moussavi supporter Hamid-Reza Jalaipour is the detained man's father and said he asked everyone he could what had happened to his son, in an interview with BBC's Farsi channel.

"Is it a crime to support Mousavi? That's my only question now," Jalaipour told BBC. "Man, they have fallen to attacking people's wives and children."

Ghaemi also said one of the latest to be arrested was Ebrahim Yazdi, who was foreign minister after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1979 revolution and is now leader of the banned but tolerated Freedom Movement of Iran. Ghaemi said Yazdi was arrested in the intensive care unit of Pars Hospital in Tehran.

Yazdi's son-in-law, Mehdi Noorbaksh, who lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, confirmed that his 78-year-old father-in-law was detained while undergoing treatment at the hospital. Noorbaksh told The Associated Press that Yazdi was arrested around 3 p.m. Wednesday and taken to Evin Prison, just outside the Iranian capital.

Noorbaksh said it's been difficult to get information about his father-in-law because phone lines have been cut off.

Amnesty International said that 17 political activists were detained and taken to "unspecified locations" Monday night after they staged a peaceful protest in a square in Tabriz, north-western Iran.

Amnesty said Ghaffari Farzadi, a leading member of the Iran Freedom Movement and a lecturer at Tabriz University, was also arrested, according to witnesses they spoke to at the university.

Amnesty said a crackdown on about 3,000 protesters in the north-western city of Oroumiye led to the deaths of two people and the detention of hundreds. In the southern city of Shiraz, tear gas was used in a university library where security forces beat students and detained about 100 people, the group said. And in the northern town of Babol, armed paramilitaries and plain-clothed officials surrounded Babol University and targeted students in dormitories, witnesses told Amnesty.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said other people who have disappeared or been arrested include:

  • Prominent reformer Saeed Hajjarian, an advisor to former president Mohammad Khatami, paralyzed in an assassination attempt in 2000.
  • Mohammad Tavasoli, the director of the political office of the Freedom Movement of Iran, arrested June 16.
  • Human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, arrested in his office by security forces posing as clients.
  • Human rights activist Shiva Nazarahari.
  • Journalist Mahsa Amrabadi.
  • Former spokesperson for Khatami Abdolah Ramezanzadeh.
  • Politician Mostafa Tajzadeh.
  • Political activists Mohsen Aminzadeh, Mohammad Atrianfar, and Mohammad Tavasoli.
  • Freedom Movement members Ahmad Afjeiee, Emad Bahavar, Mojtaba Khandan, Saieed Zeraatkar, Rouholah Shafiee, Ali Mehrdad, and Mohammad-Reza Ahmadinia.
  • Members of the reformist Islamic Participation Front: Ali PourKhayeri, Shahin Nourbakhsh, Ali Taghipour Mohammad Shokuhi, Ashkan Mojaleli, Maysam Varahchehre, Mahdieh Minavi, and Farhad Nasrollahpour.
  • Members of the Central Council of the University Alumni group ADVAR: general secretary Ahmad Zaydabadi, Hadi Kahal and Hamed Iranshahi.
  • Activists Payam Haydar Ghazvini, Nasim Riahi, Mojtaba Rajabi, and Atar Rashidi in Ghazvin province.
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