WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A scholar at a Washington think tank issued an international appeal following the arrest of his clerical father by Iranian intelligence officials in Qom.
Tehran, faced with an evolving opposition movement challenging the clerical regime, has rounded up scores of leaders in an effort to clamp down on dissent.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said that Iranian intelligence officials arrested reformist Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Khalaji on Tuesday.
The cleric was a prominent leader in the holy city of Qom and had close ties to Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri, a leading reformist who died suddenly Dec. 19.
"My father is a pious religious scholar who has always sought a peaceful solution to the problems facing Iran," said his son Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute.
Khalaji said his family was planning a trip to Dubai to apply for documents to travel to Washington to pay him a visit. He says Iranian authorities confiscated their tickets and travel documents.
The 61-year-old cleric was arrested three times prior to the 1979 Revolution for his work as a political activist.
The Washington Institute was included in a series of foreign agencies Tehran accuses of backing the opposition movement.