Son's release puts Iran's last founding father back in the big time


The release from jail of a son of Iran's conservative former President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has sparked a new round of speculation about the veteran politician's future.

The current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is barred from running for a third consecutive term. The successful candidate who will emerge from the ballot box in June next year, after screening by the Guardian Council of the Constitution, is certain to be a conservative – of either the pragmatic or hardline variety – and must have the blessing of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mr Rafsanjani, a former political rival of Mr Ahmadinejad, has been marginalised by the leadership since losing to Mr Ahmadinejad in 2005 and has seen his reputation undermined by corruption allegations.

But the pragmatic conservative, now aged 78, remains influential and is calling for a government of national unity to deal with the economic crisis that has worsened with the imposition of international sanctions over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Mr Rafsanjani's children were linked to protests by the opposition Green Movement, whose leaders Mir-Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi remain under house arrest following demonstrations after Mr Ahmadinejad won re-election in 2009. His son and daughter were both jailed in September on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda, in what was seen as a warning to their father from the hardliners. But Mr Rafsanjani's son, Mehdi Hashemi, was released from Iran's notorious Evin prison on Sunday after two months spent in solitary confinement, thanks to his family posting bail of 100 billion Iranian rial (£5m).

Gholam Hossein Esmaili, the head of Iran's prisons organisation, said yesterday that the indictment for his trial would be sent "soon" to the court. Mr Rafsanjani's daughter, Faezeh, remains in jail however, serving a six-month sentence. "I think there was a deal with the supreme leader that would allow Rafsanjani to retain his remaining position and wealth in return for his children paying a nominal price for their support for the Green Movement," said Barbara Slavin, an Iran specialist and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

"Clearly the leader recognises the need for greater unity at a time of unprecedented economic crisis and potential opportunity regarding a deal with the US," she said. "If such a deal can be reached, the regime needs its last remaining founding father –Rafsanjani – wholeheartedly on its side."

However, Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian analyst from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said he believed Mr Rafsanjani was a "spent force" in Iranian politics. He interpreted the release of Mehdi Hashemi as demonstrating how little the security establishment views him as a threat. "It's telling that Moussavi and Karroubi remain in prison," he added.

Mr Sadjadpour also said he believed Mehdi Rafsanjani was not imprisoned because he was a pro-democracy activist "but because a new generation of revolutionaries want to control the vast oil weath which the Rafsanjani family once controlled."

Meanwhile, Mr Ahmadinejad has his own candidate in mind to succeed him: his controversial former chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who is accused by hardliners of being a "deviationist" aiming to challenge the authority of the ruling clerics.

n Iran's Foreign Minister said that a way must be found to end the deadlock with major powers over its nuclear programme. Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency: "The two sides [Iran and world powers] have reached a conclusion that they must exit the current stalemate."

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...


£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

KS2 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ofsted said "A good larger...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London