Iran Arrests Ex-Nuclear Negotiator

Published on TIME, by AP/NASSER KARIMI, May 2, 2007.

Iranian authorities have arrested the country’s former nuclear negotiator, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s predecessor and key rival, and he reportedly could face an espionage charge.

The hard-line president, meanwhile, insisted his country will not retreat “even an iota” on its nuclear program.

The Iranian state-run news agency said Hossein Mousavian was arrested Monday in the capital, Tehran.

Iran did not officially release any details about the specific charges against him. But the semiofficial Fars news agency — which is deemed close to the elite Revolutionary Guards — said Mousavian could face espionage charges.

“The probable charge of espionage activities may be raised against him,” the agency quoted an unidentified official as saying. “Mousavian was arrested because of connections and exchange of information with foreign elements”.

Fars said Mousavian was summoned to the prosecutor’s office Monday, where he was arrested and taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

“Mousavian’s case is under initial investigation and interrogation, and his release is unlikely,” the agency said.

Mousavian was a member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team until 2005 and before that served as Iran’s ambassador to Germany. He was a close ally of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Ahmadinejad, who defeated Rafsanjani in the last presidential elections, replaced the nuclear negotiating team, including Mousavian, when he assumed power two years ago.

Rafsanjani, a high-ranking cleric, holds seats on two of Iran’s most important government bodies and is considered Ahmadinejad’s main political rival. Seen as a more pragmatic conservative than Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani has taken a somewhat more conciliatory stance toward the U.S. and its allies over Tehran’s nuclear program …

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