Ally Of Iranian President Arrested
June 23, 2011
Iranian news agencies say a former member of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's entourage has been arrested after being recently forced out of a diplomatic post by conservative lawmakers.
The Fars news agency reported, without naming its source or elaborating, that Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh "was arrested several hours ago."
Esmail Kosari, a member of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told the Mehr news agency that Malekzadeh "was arrested today because of financial charges and numerous [pending] cases in the judiciary."
Hard-line politicians have also accused Malekzadeh of being part of a "deviant current" close to Ahmadinejad that has tried to undermine the role of Iran's clerical hierarchy by promoting secular ideas.
Malekzadeh denies the charges.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi appointed Malekzadeh as deputy foreign minister on June 18, but was forced to accept his resignation three days later after deputies launched proceedings to impeach Salehi for making the appointment.
Malekzadeh had been a senior official in the high council of Iranian foreign affairs, run by Ahmadinejad's controversial chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei.
compiled from agency reports
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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