Some 20 progressive Iranians arrested and jailed at the weekend in Tehran are accused of "plotting against the regime," a serious accusation that can carry the death penalty, the head of Tehran's revolutionary tribunal was quoted by Tuesday's press as saying.
"These people were looking to foment a plot against the Islamic regime, and planned actions aimed at disrupting public opinion and organizing provocative gatherings," said Ali Mobasheri, head of the country's hard-line revolutionary tribunals in a statement, quoted by AFP.
This accusation, if confirmed, can be considered as a "moharebeh," or war against God, and can be punishable by death or fixed 10 years in prison, he was quoted as saying.
Iranian security forces raided a meeting of opposition members and reformists late Sunday in Tehran.
A revolutionary court official confirmed 20 of the reported 30 or 40 arrests, saying they came after an anti-regime meeting, said the Iranian News Agency (IRNA).
Ahmad Zeid-Abadi, a leading reformist journalist recently freed from jail on bail after months of detention, was among those arrested late on Sunday, said the Iranian agency.
The detainees also included dissident leaders Habibollah Payman and Ali Reza Rajaie, members of the nationalist-religious alliance, said IRNA. Dozens of relatives gathered outside parliament on Monday to complain about the arrests after being turned away by revolutionary courts, the Iranian agency said.
Meanwhile, the biggest Iranian pro-reform party, Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) has expressed profound concern over the detention of the Islamic activists.
In a letter to the Judiciary Head Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, IIPF said "on the basis of which legal criteria, can a group be prosecuted barely because they are at odds with us in opinion?"
They were arrested hours after embattled President Mohammad Khatami called in a speech in parliament for more tolerance in dealing with critics, said IRNA.
Reformist MP Mohsen Armin also criticized the move and told legislators "It has now become a routine to have a crisis during the president's foreign trips. To arrest these people at this time is contrary to our national interests," IRNA quoted him as saying – Albawaba.com
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