Iran arrests one of Ahmadinejad entourage

TEHERAN — Iran has arrested a former member of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s entourage recently forced out of a diplomatic post by conservative lawmakers, Fars news agency and a judiciary source said on Thursday.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 23 Jun 2011, 7:32 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:22 AM

‘Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh was arrested several hours ago,’ Fars said without naming its source or elaborating, while the judiciary source confirmed the arrest and state television said the judiciary ‘will soon issue a statement.’

He ‘was arrested today (Thursday) because of financial charges and numerous (other) cases in the judiciary,’ influential MP and member of parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission Esmaeel Kosari told the Mehr news agency.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi appointed Malekzadeh as deputy foreign minister last Saturday but was forced to accept his resignation three days later after MPs launched proceedings to impeach Salehi for making the appointment.

Before his short-lived tenure at the foreign ministry, Malekzadeh was a senior official in the high council of Iranian foreign affairs, run by Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, whom conservatives accuse of leading a ‘current of deviation’ aimed at undermining the Islamic regime.

The parliamentarians maintained that Malekzadeh has a number of legal cases pending against him concerning ‘financial and non-financial’ issues, and that he is ‘from the deviation circle.’

Conservatives, the Shia clergy and the elite Revolutionary Guards have repeatedly called for Mashaie’s dismissal, accusing him of being too liberal, too nationalist and of exerting too much influence over the president.

Ahmadinejad has so far adamantly defended his aides, including Mashaie.

The rift between Ahmadinejad and the conservatives surfaced in mid-April when he challenged a ruling by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who vetoed a decision by the president to sack Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi.

Ahmadinejad withdrew from public life for 10 days, igniting a bitter dispute with the conservatives supporting the supreme leader. Khamenei has since repeatedly urged all factions to rein in attacks on the president and his aides.

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