Agence France-Presse

Iran: Saeed Mortazavi, ally of Ahmadinejad, released after mystery arrest

Picture dated December 25, 2002 shows then judge Saeed Mortazavi during the trial of reformist Abbas Abdi in Tehran. Iran's judiciary chief has named hardline Tehran prosecutor Mortazavi, who was behind mass trials of post-election detainees, as deputy prosecutor general, state news agency IRNA reported on August 30.
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Iranian authorities have freed former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad linked to alleged human rights abuses, two days after he was detained without explanation.

Iran's official media reported his release on Wednesday, the Associated Press said, but have not stated any reason for his detention nor whether he will face charges.

Most observers suspect the episode is linked to an escalating political feud between Ahmadinejad and his rivals in parliament, according to the AP.

Mortazavi's arrest on Monday came hours after Ahmadinejad publicly accused the powerful parliamentary speaker and a likely challenger in June's presidential elections, Ali Larijani, of corruption, the BBC reported.

The president played lawmakers a video that he claimed showed Larijani's brother, Fazel Larijani, offering Mortazavi the benefit of his family's influence in exchange for money.

Another brother, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, is the head of Iran's judiciary, the AP added – a connection that prompted Ahmadinejad, following Mortazavi's arrest, to accuse the dynasty of running Iran's judicial system as "a private family institution."

Ali Larijani vigorously denies any wrongdoing and has called the video footage a "mafia film," the New York Times said.

It's not the first time Mortazavi has been at the center of disagreements between parliament and the president. Last month lawmakers lobbied to have him removed from his position as head of Iran's Social Security Organization, the BBC reported, only for Ahmadinejad to reappoint him in a caretaker role.

In 2010, according to Agence France-Presse, Mortazavi was suspended as Tehran's chief prosecutor after a parliamentary investigation found him responsible for the deaths in prison of three protesters who had taken part in rallies against Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election.

Additionally he was blamed for the torture and murder of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-born Canadian photojournalist who was arrested after taking pictures of demonstrators in June 2003.

He's also been called "the Butcher of the Press" for his repression of Iranian media, the Globe and Mail wrote

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