Iran ex-president''s daughter freed after brief arrest

Tehran, Feb 20 (AFP) Faezeh Hashemi, daughter ofIran''s ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was freed todayafter being arrested briefly in Tehran as police deployed toprevent protests, Fars news agency reported.

"Faezeh Hashemi, who was arrested as she led anumber of anti-revolutionaries and rioters while claiming topurchase clothes in Vali Asr Street, has been released," thereport said.

Earlier, Fars and state news agency IRNA reportedHashemi''s arrest for "provocative behaviour."

IRNA said that Faezeh was involved "numerous timesin illegal gatherings" in the unrest after the disputedre-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

Rafsanjani, an influential cleric who heads twopowerful bodies in the Islamic republic, is facing harshcriticism from conservatives who demand he condemn publiclyopposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

The cleric and former two-time president hadindirectly supported Mousavi against Ahmadinejad in the 2009election after he himself lost to the hardliner in 2005.

His daughter Faezeh and her son Mehdi Hashemi -- arefugee in London -- were reportedly involved in Mousavi''selection campaign.

Rafsanjani, in recent months, has distanced himselffrom the opposition leaders and also condemned Monday''santi-government demonstrations staged by their supporters. Buthis statement has not satisfied the conservatives.

Mohsen Rezai, secretary of the Expediency Councilwhich Rafsanjani, heads has publicly criticised the cleric forhis inaction against the opposition in recent days.

Mohammad Reza Bahonnar, an influential lawmaker,said today that Rafsanjani had "less than a week" to clarifyhis position, otherwise he would lose "legitimacy" in theposts he holds in two powerful regime bodies.

Besides the Expediency Council, Rafsanjani chairsthe Assembly of Experts, a body which selects and supervisesthe supreme leader of Iran.

A massive police deployment meanwhile preventedopposition supporters from staging large gatherings in Tehran.

The demonstrations were called by a group owingallegiance to Mousavi and Karroubi.

The gatherings aimed to commemorate the seventh dayof the killing of two people in Monday''s protest in Tehran andto show "decisive support" to the two opposition leaders whoserebellion against the government has shaken the pillars ofIran''s Islamic regime.

Tehran was the epicentre of deadly anti-governmentprotests in 2009 after the re-election of Ahmadinejad asMousavi and Karroubi refused to acknowledge his officiallydeclared victory.

Both men ran in the 2009 election contested againstAhmadinejad. (AFP)

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