Iranian security agents on Tuesday raided offices connected to senior reformist leader Mahdi Karroubi, arresting four aides and closing the headquarters of his political party, which had been probing abuse of protesters arrested in the country's postelection crackdown.
The raids appeared aimed at crushing a campaign spearheaded by Karroubi to bring to light alleged torture and rapes of detainees — allegations that have deeply embarrassed Iran's government and clerical leadership.
Calls for arrests
The raids also come amid increasing calls by hard-line clerics and commanders in the Revolutionary Guard for the arrest of Karroubi and fellow opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and former President Mohamad Khatami. Arresting any of the three would be a major escalation in a crackdown that the opposition says aims to wipe out their movement completely.
Security agents raided the headquarters of Karroubi's National Confidence Party on Tuesday, arresting two party members and confiscating "documents and electronic devices containing information about the party's investigation into abuses of detained protesters in prisons," party spokesman Esmaeil Gerami Moghaddam told The Associated Press.
The agents then sealed the headquarters, Moghaddam said.
Security forces also raided Karroubi's personal office in another part of Tehran and arrested Mohammad Davari, an editor of the National Confidence Party Web site, Moghaddam said. Karroubi was at the office at the time of the raid, he said.
The security agents also confiscated CDs and documents concerning the abuse allegations and sealed the office, he said.
'I'm being taken away'
In a third raid, security forces arrested Morteza Alviri, a top Karroubi aide and a former vice president, at his home. "I'm being taken away by security agents right now," Alviri told AP by telephone before the call was cut off.
Alviri was a member of a committee set up by Karroubi and Mousavi to probe the abuse allegations.
On Sunday evening, security agents raided a joint Karroubi-Mousavi office that was taking in reports of abuse from released protesters, Moghaddam said.
Karroubi and Mousavi both ran against incumbent hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 elections. The opposition says Ahmadinejad's victory in the vote was fraudulent and that Mousavi was the rightful winner.
Hundreds were arrested in the heavy crackdown crushing mass protests in support of Mousavi that erupted after the vote in the country's worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The opposition says at least 72 protesters were killed, while the government has confirmed 30.
Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam on Tuesday also warned the opposition against using an upcoming annual pro-Palestinian nationwide rally as an occasion to hold anti-government protests. The rally — known as Quds Day, referring to the Arabic word for Jerusalem — takes place Sept. 18. It is usually an occasion for government supporters to denounce Israel and show support for the Palestinians.
"The main objective of the Quds Day should not be deviated from," Moghadam said, according to the state news agency IRNA.