Iran reform leader Mehdi Karroubi ends hunger strike

An Iranian opposition leader held under house arrest since 2011 has ended his hunger strike after the authorities accepted one of his two demands

Mehdi Karroubi was a defeated candidate in 2009's disputed presidential election
Mehdi Karroubi was a defeated candidate in 2009's disputed presidential election

Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest for six years, ended his hunger strike late Thursday after the government agreed to remove intelligence agents from his home.

Karroubi, 79, stopped eating and drinking on Wednesday to press for a public trial and the removal from his home of intelligence ministry agents. On Thursday morning, he was admitted to hospital with high blood pressure.

Later, his son announced that he had ended the strike after "the withdrawal of the agents from his house".

However, his demand to face trial - he has never been charged since being placed under house arrest in 2011 - appears no closer to being granted.

Mehdi Karroubi and fellow reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi, 75, were candidates in Iran's disputed presidential election in 2009, which was won by the hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Millions of opposition supporters took to the streets to demand a re-run of the vote amid allegations of widespread fraud.

Both Karroubi and Mousavi were placed under house arrest in 2011 for their role in the protests, which were brutally put down by the regime as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei insisted the result was valid. The Ayatollah ordered a crackdown on dissent that saw dozens of opposition supporters killed and thousands detained.

Former president Mohammad Khatami, the figurehead of the reformist movement who has been banned from appearing in the media since the protests, said there was nothing he could do to secure a trial.

Karroubi's health, which has been declining as he underwent a heart operation earlier this month, poses a potential problem for the Iranian regime, with fears that it could provide a lightning rod for renewed protests.

He remained in hospital on Friday as doctors monitored his condition.

Rouhani, considered a political moderate, won a resounding re-election victory in May, in part by rallying reformists and vowing to win the release of Mousavi and Karroubi. But hardline judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani threw cold water over Rouhani's promises shortly after the election.

More in World

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition