Paris, 2 May (IPS) Mr. Mohammad Hoseyn Moussavian, a former diplomat and senior nuclear negotiator has been arrested on charges of “espionage, contact with foreign elements and communication of information”, according to informed Iranian sources.
The arrest, operated on Monday first of May at his residence in Tehran by eight plainclothes security men was first reported inside Iran by the pro-reformist daily “E’temad Melli” and the Labour news agency “ILNA” and outside the country by the Persian services of the BBC and Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty.
Mr. Moussavian was detained and taken to the Evin prison where he is under preliminary interrogations for contacts with foreign elements and exchange of information about nuclear questions”.
However, while the authorities have kept silent on the subject, the “Fars” news service that is close to the Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday that the former ambassador to Germany had been “detained and taken to the notorious Evin prison, where he is under preliminary interrogations concerning (his) contacts with foreign elements and exchange of information about nuclear questions”.
Quoting an “informed source”, the agency ruled out financial charges against Mr. Moussavian, a deputy to Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rohani, the former Secretary of the Supreme Council on National Security and top nuclear coordinator, saying that he is sought for “espionage charges” and passing nuclear information to foreign agents it did not identified.
The official news agency IRNA also reported the arrest very briefly, citing “security” issues.
However, informed sources told Iran Press Service that Mr. Moussavian, who had joined his former boss at the Expediency Council’s Strategic Research Centre is victim of his outspoken criticism of the mishandling of the nuclear problem by the Government of President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, accusing him and other officials at the SCNS and the nuclear negotiation group of hiding the truth from the public opinion.
“It is easy to say that the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions are but a piece of worn out paper, but the reality is that they are very serious, that it is easy to get into the path of the Security Council but very difficult to get out, as experienced by other nations and above all, these type of resolutions are mandatory for all the UN members, including our own nation”, he had warned two months ago, referring to Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad’s repeated statements and assurances that the resolutions have no meaning for Iran.
Though Fars news agency in its report does not identify the "foreign elements" Mr. Moussavian is alledged to have contacted and passed information, but Iranian political analysts said the arrest of a prominent diplomat and a nuclear official whose skills and knowledge of the issue had been praised by European negotiators would certainly ring alarm bells in all the capitals of 5+1, reducing the margin of bargain for the present Iranian negotiators.
Representatives from the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany are meeting in London to discuss further sanctions against Tehran in case Iran refuses to give in to demands formulated by both the Security Council and the IAEA to suspend its uranium enriching activities, which the Iranians say it is “out of question”.
The arrest of Mr. Moussavian and the charges of espionage and intelligence connections with foreigners highlight the present heavy political atmosphere that is present in Iran, due mostly the military-security characteristic of Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad’s Government.
Known to be close to ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Chairman of the powerful Expediency Council and the regime's virtual numer 2 man, the detention of Mr. Moussavian is also seen as a new episod in Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad's move aimed at eliinating the power of the former president, sources said.
"One must expect the power struggle at the top of the Iranian clerical-led establishment reach new climax, as the arrest of a prominent personality like Mr. Moussavian would certainly not be let go unpunished by the so-called pragmatist wing of the leadership led by Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani", a political journalist stressed.
Though Fars says it is unlikely that Mr. Moussavian be released soon, "being under early stage of interrogations", informed sources says in case his detention is prologed, both Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mr. Hassan Rohani would enter fight for his freedom.
“Badly isolated in the international community and more and more unpopular at home, Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad is deliberately creating troubles in order to divert the public opinion from his growing problems, mostly his failure to improve the situation of the poor, the workers, the low income classes of the society, the daily increase in the prices of basic commodities etc..”, one political observer noted, citing the new police crackdown against women, students, teachers and workers. ENDS MOUSSAVIAN ARRESTED 25071856