Page 2 of 2   <      

100 Iranians Tried for Disputing Election; Prosecutor Says U.S. Abetted Them

Iran's Revolutionary Guards, widely seen as strongly opposing Mousavi, warned in the days leading up to the election that his supporters were planning a velvet revolution.

Aides to Mousavi and another presidential candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, warned of fraud and created a "committee to protect the votes" weeks before the election.

The defendants on Saturday included two photographers, Majid Saeedi of U.S.-based Getty Images and Satyar Emami of the French photo agency Sipa. They were accused of working without permits during the clashes.

"They would visualize a crisis-ridden and agitated country," the prosecutor said. "Viewers would think that these hooligans were Iranian people protesting the outcome of the elections."

Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari, who was arrested on June 21, also appeared in court Saturday. At a news conference later in the day, he expressed regret for his actions.

"On behalf of myself and my press colleagues, I apologize to Iran's great nation and supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution for doing harm to the country," he said.

Several groups were accused of direct involvement in the riots that followed the election. The main culprits, the prosecutor said, were members of Mujaheddin-e Khalq, an armed Iranian opposition group based in Iraq. Mohabbati said others were linked to the United States and Israel.

The U.S. Congress approved a budget of $400 million during the Bush administration aimed at assisting Iranian opposition groups, The Washington Post reported in 2008.

After the indictment was read, former vice president Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, a vocal opponent of Ahmadinejad, offered his confession, saying, "the issue of fraud in Iran was a lie."

Another defendant, Mohammad Atrianfar, a senior member of a party close to former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, also confessed, saying the election had been fair.

When a government journalist asked him about his sudden "change of heart," Atrianfar was cryptic. "It is only God who can change one's heart," he said. "When one is put in a situation in which one might not be alive the next day, then one can experience an evolution."

Special correspondent Kay Armin Serjoie contributed to this report.

<       2

© 2009 The Washington Post Company