Bloomberg News

Ahmadinejad Associate Freed Amid Iranian Political Infighting

February 06, 2013

A former Iranian prosecutor and associate of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was freed without explanation after two days of detention, state-run media reported.

Saeed Mortazavi was arrested by judicial officials on Feb. 4 after a dispute between Ahmadinejad and long-term rival Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani exploded in public, with the two trading accusations of wrongdoing and improper conduct in the presence of lawmakers.

During the parliamentary session, Ahmadinejad showed a video apparently featuring Mortazavi and which the president maintained, implicated Fazel Larijani, the speaker’s brother, in fraudulent business dealings.

Mortazavi had been held on unspecified charges and no details were given on why he was released from Evin prison at dawn today, according to Fars and Mehr news agencies reports.

With tightening sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program restricting the country’s crude exports and its access to oil revenue, Ahmadinejad has been made the scapegoat in recent months by fellow politicians for his management of the economy. The president has in turn threatened to unveil documents that, he says, show some officials are corrupt.

Tensions among establishment leaders have escalated before a June 14 presidential election in which Ahmadinejad isn’t eligible to run. The nation’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered officials to stop the bickering.

Larijani, the son of a senior cleric and one of five brothers who have held public office, lost the 2005 presidential election, when Ahmadinejad won his first term. Larijani later quit as Iran’s nuclear negotiator over differences with Ahmadinejad.

Mortazavi was suspended in 2010 after the deaths of three men arrested during the country’s protests that followed the contested 2009 election. He was subsequently appointed head of the Social Security Organization by Labor Minister Abdolreza Sheikholeslami.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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