- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TEHRAN | An Iranian opposition leader Monday released what he said was an account by a prisoner raped by his jailers, in a challenge to the country’s leadership that has sought to silence claims of torture and abuses in the postelection crackdown.

The allegations of torture and even rapes against imprisoned opposition protesters have become a source of embarrassment to the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s clerical leadership as they try to put behind them the turmoil of the disputed June presidential election.

Hundreds of protesters and opposition politicians and activists were arrested when security forces crushed the mass protests that erupted after the opposition claimed the June 12 vote was rigged in favor of Mr. Ahmadinejad and that pro-reform challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi was the true winner. The opposition says at least 69 people were killed in the crackdown, including some who died from torture in prison.

In recent weeks, hard-line government supporters have fiercely denounced senior opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi after he announced earlier this month that he had received reports that detainees were raped and tortured to death.

On Monday, Mr. Karroubi responded by making public for the first time the details of one of the accounts. In a statement on his party’s Web site, he warned he would release more accounts unless authorities stop denying his claims.

The account is purportedly by a released prisoner who had been held in Kahrizak prison, a facility on Tehran’s outskirts where many detained protesters were held and which has been at the center of abuse claims. The author of the account is not identified, and he says he fears retribution from authorities.

“They blindfolded and handcuffed me in prison, beat me nearly to death. Worse than that, they did to me an act that is denounced even by unbelievers and idol worshippers. I only had the courage to inform Mr. Karroubi of this matter,” the former prisoner was quoted by the Web site as saying.

The former prisoner says he was subsequently questioned by judiciary officials who tried to force him to retract his claims and accused him of being paid or otherwise induced by Mr. Karroubi to make the accusations.

In another development, Mohammad Maleki, 76, a former president of Tehran University, was arrested in a raid on his residence in Tehran Monday morning.

Security forces also took away his computer, notes, personal documents and about 80 books, the National Council of Resistance of Iran reported. The Washington Times independently confirmed the arrest.

Mehdi Jedinia contributed to this report.

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