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Close aide to Ahmadinejad arrested

May 3, 2011 at 3:12 PM
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TEHRAN, May 3 (UPI) -- One of the Iranian's president's closest aides was arrested for his support for a controversial film about the Shiite faith, sources said.

A special clerical court summoned Hojjatoleslam Abbas Amirifar to appear during the weekend and members of the Revolutionary Guard later arrested him, reports Radio Zamaneh, a Persian broadcaster in the Netherlands, citing Iranian sources.

Amirifar heads a cultural council for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and is considered a close aide to the president's chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.

Amirifar was referred to the courts for his support for a film that proposes the Twelfth Iman in the Shiite faith, the supposed initiator of judgment day, would appear soon. Iranian authorities put the film's producers under investigation.

A conservative member of the Islamic Coalition Party told the Los Angeles Times this week that Ahmadinejad tried to sack Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi because the intelligence agency was allegedly spying on Mashaei.

The move was blocked by Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, in an apparent riff in Iranian politics. Ahmadinejad is supposedly facing internal pressure from conservative members of the Iranian Parliament.

The Wall Street Journal as far back as November cited unspecified "reports of challenges" to Ahmadinejad's tenure.

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