- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

TEHRAN | Iranian security forces have limited the movements of a leading opposition figure by refusing to protect him when he leaves his home and broadened their crackdown with a new wave of arrests that included the sister of Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Iran’s worst internal violence in three decades has grown increasingly violent and bitter in the wake of clashes Sunday that left at least eight people dead. Security forces, who have arrested hundreds of people since Sunday, on Tuesday detained a relative of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Meanwhile, government supporters held rallies in at least three cities.

Iran accused the U.S. and Britain of fomenting the violence, threatening to “slap” Britain in the face as it summoned the British ambassador.

The U.S. and other countries have criticized Iran’s actions. On Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned what he called the “bloody crackdown” and called for the release of those arrested.

The son of leading opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi said that on Monday, guards assigned to his father by Iranian police stopped providing security for him when he goes out.

Taghi Karroubi said the measure means his father cannot go outside safely, calling it a “quasi-house arrest.” On Saturday, assailants attacked the elder Mr. Karroubi’s car and shattered his front windshield.

Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Mousavi were the two defeated reformist candidates in the disputed June 12 presidential election, which set off the worst unrest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shrugged off Sunday’s protests as “a play ordered by Zionists and Americans” and criticized President Obama and Britain for allegedly supporting the protesters.

“The Iranian nation has witnessed this sort of play many times,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said, according to the state IRNA news agency.

Sunday’s clashes were the worst since the aftermath of June’s disputed election.

There was no serious violence reported Tuesday, but the opposition Greenroad Web site said students and security forces clashed at the Azad University’s science department in Tehran. It cited witnesses as saying the students were later “locked down” inside the building and pro-government Basij militiamen threatened to arrest anyone who dared leave the premises.

Opposition Web sites reported 10 new arrests, including that of Dr. Noushin Ebadi, a medical professor at Tehran’s Azad Medical University.

Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights efforts in Iran, said in a phone interview from London that Iranian authorities were trying to punish her by arresting her sister.

“She is detained for the sake of me,” Ms. Ebadi said. “She was neither politically active nor had a role in any rally.”

The Greenroad Web site also reported the arrests of Mr. Mousavi’s brother-in-law, Shapour Kazemi, and Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, a journalist who frequently criticizes the government. Others included the son of a prominent ayatollah and a reporter for the semiofficial ILNA news agency.

The exact death toll from Sunday’s violence is still not clear. The government had said eight people were killed, but on Tuesday, Tehran’s chief prosecutor said he was investigating only seven deaths.

One reason for the confusion is that the government has taken the bodies of five slain protesters, including Mr. Mousavi’s nephew, Ali, in what appears to be an attempt to prevent activists from using their funerals as a platform for more demonstrations. The bodies remained at a coroner’s office Tuesday while the government said it was still conducting autopsies.

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