The brother of the Iranian president has been arrested on Sunday, kicking off an ominous start to Rouhani’s second term. Little is known about what prompted the surprise move, which may be interpreted as Rouhani tightening his grip over Iran.
Radio Free Europe reports:
“Multiple investigations have been conducted regarding this person, also other people have been investigated, some of whom are in jail,” spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said in a televised press conference.
“Yesterday, bail was issued for him but because he failed to secure it he was referred to prison,” Ejei added. He said Fereidoun would be released “once he provides the bail.”
Fereidoun is also a top aide to President Rohani, a relative moderate who changed his surname from Fereidoun years ago.
Fereidoun has long been accused by Iran’s hard-liners of financial crimes and corruption. He has reportedly been linked to officials at the center of a scandal involving inflated salaries for managers of a state insurance company.
Fereidoun, who is also the president’s aide, has long been accused by the conservatives of financial crimes and corruption.
In January, a group of Iranian parliamentarians called for Fereidoun to be put on trial for economic crimes, a move critics described as politically motivated.
The move comes as reports out of Iran signal a deepening rift between Rouhani and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Guardian UK reported:
Tensions are mounting between Iran’s supreme leader and the country’s president after the latter’s landslide victory in last month’s election.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 78, has sharpened his criticism of the reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, including humiliating him in a meeting of the country’s most senior officials.
A hardliner keen to preserve his legacy, Khamenei is believed to have tacitly backed Ebrahim Raisi, Rouhani’s rival, in the election.
The president, who increased his mandate by 5m votes when he won his second term, fired back this week by saying that the political legitimacy of a religious leader is determined by the “people’s will and invitation” – comments that supporters of Khamenei, whose position as supreme leader is a lifelong appointment, have received with disdain.
Clerics sympathetic to Khamenei argue that the legitimacy of the leader, or the rule of the Islamic jurist (Velayat-e-Faghih) is divine.