(AP) A journalist and liberal critic of the hard-line clerics who rule Iran was arrested Sunday after police questioned him for several hours, his wife said.
Sina Motallebi was taken to jail after he responded to a summons Saturday to report to a police station for interrogation, Farnaz Ghazizadeh told The Associated Press. She said police promised to release her husband in two days, but she believed he would be held longer.
“Sina has been summoned by the judiciary several times over the past four months,” Ghazizadeh said. “They object to materials in his Web site including interviews he gave to foreign media.”
Motallebi runs the Farsi Web site www.rooznegar.com, which he developed after the hard-line judiciary banned the reformist newspaper he wrote for, the daily Hayat-e-Nou, or New Era. The newspaper had published a cartoon showing the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran’s 1979 revolution, being crushed by a hand.
The editor of Hayat-e-Nou, Hadi Khamenei, is the younger brother of Khomeini’s successor as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Hadi Khamenei opposes his older brother’s policies.
Since early 2000, Iran’s hard-line judiciary has closed down about 90 pro-democracy publications and jailed several dozen writers and activists on vague charges of insulting the authorities.
The crackdown is widely seen as part of a power struggle between reformists who support President Mohammad Khatami’s program of social and political reforms and hard-liners who oppose any dilution of clerical rule and resist change through the unelected institutions they control, including the judiciary and police.