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TEHRAN — Signaling that it might be ready to punish the leaders of Iran’s opposition movement more than a year after the last major antigovernment protests, a top Iranian judicial official has vowed to prosecute them.


“Leaders of the sedition will definitely be prosecuted,” Tehran’s chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said in reference to the defeated presidential candidates Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have long been accused by pro-government hard-liners of trying to undermine Iran’s leaders and of maintaining links with Iran’s foreign enemies.

“The accusations against the sedition leaders are more than they think and they will understand when we issue our list of charges,” Mr. Dolatabadi told a pro-government crowd in a speech before Friday Prayer at Tehran University.

The statements came just a day after a pro-government rally, essentially commemorating the quashing of the protest movement over the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. The remarks also followed a speech by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Wednesday in which he appeared to try to reinvigorate anger against the movement’s leaders.

Although he did not refer specifically to the opposition leaders, Ayatollah Khamenei said in a fiery speech to thousands of supporters in Gilan Province that “seditionists” had “hurt the Islamic Revolution and the people” by “conspiring and giving hope to the enemies.”

It is unclear why the government appears to be renewing its campaign against the opposition leaders, or if it will move ahead with prosecutions. During the mass protests against the results of the June 2009 election — which Mr. Moussavi said was stolen from him — members of Parliament and the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps called for the men to be arrested, but they never were.

The government did, however, brutally suppress the movement, killing scores of protesters and jailing hundreds of others. Eventually opposition leaders stopped calling for demonstrations and have limited themselves in recent months to statements on their Web sites denouncing the government.

The latest statements against the opposition leaders may be more serious than past calls for their prosecution, however, since Iran’s judiciary has equivocated on the matter in the past. As recently as Monday, a spokesman for the judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, stated that the prosecution of opposition leaders was “unnecessary at the current time.” The tone changed after Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech, with another senior judicial official, Ebrahim Raeisi, saying Thursday that “sedition leaders” would be prosecuted and Tehran’s prosecutor making his statement on Friday.

The country’s top justice official, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani — who is the brother Ali Larijani, the Parliament speaker and conservative opponent of Mr. Ahmadinejad — had previously indicated that the judicial branch is under severe pressure to move against Iran’s opposition leaders but that other power centers would be the final arbiters.

“They ask me why I do not take positions against the sedition leaders when I said last year that they are culpable and that the charge against them is acting against the Islamic Republic system,” Ayatollah Larijani said late last month in comments published by Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency. “There are certain issues which are under consideration in this regime but I am not the one who determines them.”

A further sign of the uncompromisingly hostile environment for opposition sentiment within Iran’s political scene followed a meeting last Sunday between representatives of the reformist minority in Parliament and the former reformist president Mohammad Khatami.

During the meeting, Mr. Khatami named “freedom of political prisoners, a return to constitutional law and free and fair elections” as “minimal conditions” that must be fulfilled by the country’s leadership for reformists to take part in future elections.

The following day, hard-line figures spoke out angrily against the meeting, with Mahmoud Ahmadi-Bighash saying that the “sins” of reformist Parliament members were no less great than those of the opposition leaders.

Freed Son Seeks to Save Mother

TABRIZ, Iran (AP) — The son of an Iranian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, arousing worldwide outrage, says he has been freed on bail and now wants to devote his life to saving his mother. “We demand that her verdict be commuted,” Sajjad Qaderzadeh told reporters.

He was originally arrested in October after speaking with two German journalists about his mother’s case. The Germans were also arrested and remain in custody. His mother, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to stoning, but after Iran came under withering criticism, Iranian authorities said she would not be executed that way. They then accused her, and eventually convicted her, of killing her husband.

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