Iran reformers 'abducted' by security forces

Two of Iran's main opposition leaders and their wives are said to be in grave danger after security forces apparently abducted them from their homes, where they were under house arrest.

The claim, by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, indicates a serious escalation in the Iranian government's effort to silence the opposition movement that grew out of protests over the disputed presidential election in June 2009.

One of the missing politicians is Mir Hossein Mousavi, who ran for president in the 2009 election against the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr Ahmadinejad was declared the winner despite widespread charges of irregularities in the voting. The other is Mahdi Karroubi, a former Speaker of the Iranian parliament, who also ran on a pro-reform platform in the election.

The two had been under house arrest since calling for a rally on 14 February in solidarity with the uprising in Egypt. Iranian security forces patrolled the streets in front of their houses and kept visitors and relatives from entering. Three demonstrators were killed in a harsh security crackdown on the two days of protests that coincided with popular revolts across the region against autocratic regimes.

In a stormy session of the Iranian parliament on 15 February, members clamoured for Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi to be put to death.

The New York-based human rights group said in a statement yesterday that a neighbour and a witness reported that the security guard at both men's houses was gone, and there was no sign that the politicians or their wives were still in their homes.

The group quoted an unnamed source as saying the two couples had been taken to a "safe house" in the Tehran area.

In the Iranian context, a safe house is often anything but, it said, a place where detainees are mistreated by Revolutionary Guard forces as a way to extract confessions without any judiciary oversight.

"The campaign finds it deeply disturbing that Mousavi and Karroubi have reportedly been removed to such a facility," the group's statement added.

Aaron Rhodes, a spokesman for the rights group, said the men's disappearance under these circumstances meant they were in danger. "Given the lynch mob-like calls for their execution by numerous Iranian politicians and clerics, there is reason to be deeply concerned for their safety and well being." A further call for the release of the two opposition leaders came yesterday from the former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, but he did not refer to their apparent abduction.

Mr Khatami, also a reformist, has himself come under attack from hard-liners but remains popular in Iran since his presidency, which ran from from 1997 to 2005. A statement on hiswebsite yesterday quoted him as saying he hoped the opposition leaders would be released soon.

"Why should people like Mousavi and Karroubi, with their stellar background in the Revolution and the Islamic Republic and complete faith in the substance of the regime and the Revolution,,be under house arrest and subjected to such restrictions?" Mr Khatami said. He also hoped for "the creation of a safe and free climate".

Mr Karroubi's US-based spokesman was not available for comment.

In Iran, activists and opposition members have demanded that Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi be released, vowing to stage demonstrations every Tuesday until they are freed.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior DBA (SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSAS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Senior Project Manager

£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment