TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian media should refrain from naming those arrested by the judiciary, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday, amid recent arrests of members of President Mahmoud Ahmdinejad’s entourage.
“If a person’s crime has not yet been proven, the name of that person (and the accusations) should not be publicised,” the all-powerful Khamenei said in a meeting with judiciary officials, broadcast on state television.
“I address not only the judiciary, but also officials outside the branch as well as the media,” said Khamenei, adding that the public opinion is “unable to differentiate between the accused and the person who is actually found guilty.”
His remarks come after recently publicised reports of arrests of people close to Ahmadinejad’s under-fire chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie.
On June 23, Fars news agency and judiciary sources reported the arrest of Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, a former member of Ahmadinejad’s entourage, after he was forced out of a diplomatic post by conservative lawmakers.
Two more officials close to Mashaie, who were in charge of two free trade zones across the country, were arrested in the following days, media reported.
The reports of arrests came as ultra-conservatives, who accuse Mashaie of leading “a current of deviation” within the government and exerting too much influence over the president, have stepped up pressure on Ahmadinejad to dismiss his controversial confidant.
The regime’s conservatives, the Shiite clergy and the elite Revolutionary Guards also accuse Mashaie of trying to undermine the Islamic republic.