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Karim Traboulsi

Ahmadinejad's son denies father's arrest over alleged incitement against regime

Ahmadinejad is a controversial Iranian ex-president whose re-election in 2009 triggered mass protests [Getty file-photo]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2018

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Figures close to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have dismissed media reports that the former Iran president has been arrested for allegedly stirring up anti-government unrest.
Reports that Iranian former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was arrested for allegedly inciting unrest against the Iranian regime have been dismissed as 'fake news' by sources close to the controversial figure's son.

Alireza Mataji, a hardliner journalist, said he had contacted Ahmadinejad's son who denied his father was being detained.

"I have spoken to [the] son of former Iranian president - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... He denied that his father was arrested," Mataji wrote on Twitter late on Saturday.

He reported that Ahmadinejad was going to his office as usual

Earlier, the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi, citing "reliable sources in Tehran", said that Ahmadinejad criticised Iran leaders during a visit to the western city of Bushehr on 28 December. 

He allegedly said the government of President Hassan Rouhani :believes that they own the land and that the people are an ignorant society".

According to al-Quds al-Arabi, Ahmadinejad's comments - made against the backdrop of anti-government protest - led the authorities placing him under house arrest. 

Mataji accused the author of the news story, an ex-Iran desk editor at Saudi Arabia's al-Arabiya TV, of promoting fake news.

He also denied the authenticity of Ahmadinejad's anti-government comments being cited by Arab media, many of which seem to have come from fake Twitter accounts not connected to the former president's official handle. 

Protests in Iran began on Thursday in the north-eastern city of Mashhad, with anti-government rallies quickly spreading to other cities including Tehran, Khorramabad, Karaj and Sabzevar.

Thousands are thought to have taken part in the anti-government demonstrations, making them the biggest show of public defiance since 2009, when Iranians - as part of the newly-formed Green Movement - took to the streets to denounce an election win for former President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, which they alleged was rigged.

The protests this time initially centred around rising living costs, but quickly became focused against the regime in general with chants of "death to the dictator".

In an attempt to shut down protests and manage the unrest, Iran's government blocked access to the encrypted Telegram messaging app and the photo-sharing app Instagram, which now join Facebook and Twitter in being banned.

At least 21 people have so far died since protests began and some 450 have been arrested.

Iranian authorities have declared the unrest over, and held three days of large pro-government rallies across the country between Wednesday and Friday.

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