'Firm legal action' urged against Iran opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi

Parliamentary report claims 'clear need' to prosecute Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. while Iranian government denies the two and their wives had been transferred to Tehran's Heshmatiyeh jail.

TEHRAN // Iran was urged to take "firm legal action" against two opposition leaders in a parliamentary report yesterday, as prosecutors denied that the men have been jailed.

The demand was made by a parliamentary panel following its probe into February 14 anti-government protests called by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, whose families say the are being held in a Tehran jail.

Iran denies they have been detained.

The panel's report said western powers, including the United States, were behind the protests.

"The intervention of embassies and their elements in the 2009 sedition and the February 14 American-Israeli and British rebellion is totally unacceptable," says the report, which was read out in parliament yesterday.

"The foreign ministry is obliged to decisively confront this illegal impudence which is contrary to international regulations.

"Those like Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who called and prepared the ground to make the nation insecure on February 14, deserve firm legal action," it says.

Family members of the two men have said on their websites that Mr Mousavi, Mr Karroubi and their wives had been transferred to Tehran's Heshmatiyeh jail from their residences in Tehran.

Iran's prosecutor general, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie, on Tuesday rejected the reports.

"The published news by some hostile media regarding the transfer of Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi to Heshmatiyeh detention centre is false," Mohseni Ejeie told the ISNA news agency.

Meanwhile yesterday, the chief prosecutor in Tehran, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, also denied the accusations.

"There is a limit to lies, and rumours of transferring Mr Mousavi and Karroubi to a prison are a sheer lie," Mr Dolatabadi was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

"Using the term house arrest is not correct. Mr Mousavi and Karroubi, along with their wives, are in their homes."

In Stockholm, the Swedish foreign ministry said it had summoned Iran's ambassador to protest the reported arrests.

The ambassador, Rasoul Eslami, "was called in to the foreign ministry today. Sweden wanted to present him with its objections to the arrest of two opposition leaders in Iran", said Sven Kullberg, the foreign ministry spokesman.

"The ambassador did not provide any satisfactory answers during this meeting with the cabinet secretary [Frank Belfrage], so Sweden will follow up this issue very closely."

Mr Belfrage said after the meeting that "we are very concerned about developments of the human rights situation in Iran".

Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi, who lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election, strongly oppose his government and have since guided a string of protests against his rule.

On February 14, the two had sought to stage a rally in support of Arab uprisings, but their supporters quickly turned it into the first anti-government demonstration in a year.

The ensuing clashes between protesters and security forces left two people dead and several wounded.

Similar protests, but in scattered forms, also were carried out on February 20 and again on Tuesday, although these were largely quelled by a massive presence of security forces.

The latest demonstrations have infuriated supporters of the regime, with government supporters even demanding Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi be hanged, while officials were moving to isolate them.

The parliamentary report said there was a clear need for the two to be prosecuted.

"This committee based on proof and evidence sees the need for prosecution of Mr Mousavi and Karroubi and their dependants, and frankly announces that the majlis (parliament) can no longer accept any justification for not taking action" by the judiciary against them, the report said.

After the reading of the report, parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani lashed out at the United States, saying: "Iran's response will be decisive and biting."

Washington has criticised Tehran for moving against the two following the opposition website report they were jailed. Iranian officials have so far only acknowledged that "restrictions" have been imposed on them.