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Ayatollah's arrest denied

Tehran (Reuter) - A spokesman for Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, once the designated successor to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, denied reports of his arrest but said five of his aides, including his grandson, had been detained.

Demonstrators marched against Ayatollah Montazeri in the holy city of Qom last week after he accused Iran's rulers of usurping the Islamic revolution's leadership.

'Ayatollah Montazeri has not been arrested. I deny that,' said the spokesman. He said demonstrators had disrupted the Ayatollah's theology class in a hall, which the police then sealed, seizing cars and furniture.

Ayatollah Montazeri will not resume teaching until after holidays for the holy months of Ramadan ending in late March.