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Ahmadinejad fires dissident officials

Associated Press / August 11, 2009

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TEHRAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fired at least four senior Intelligence Ministry figures in a purge targeting officials who disagreed with the crackdown on the opposition after last month’s disputed presidential election, lawmakers and media said yesterday.

The purge deepens a rift between Ahmadinejad and critics within his own conservative camp and reveals splits within the security establishment.

The crackdown has fueled public anger and led to allegations that detainees have been tortured and abused - including several who died. This weekend, a top opposition figure brought a new allegation that some protesters were raped by jailers.

The Intelligence Ministry purge was reportedly sparked by the refusal of some top officials to back the government’s claims that the wave of post-election protests were part of an opposition “velvet revolution’’ aimed at overthrowing the clerical leadership. Some in the ministry had reportedly opposed broadcasting confessions by detainees that the opposition says were obtained by abuse.

Pro-reform websites reported that more than a dozen senior ministry officials were fired or forced to resign, but the total number remained unclear.

Hundreds have been arrested in the past two months as security forces crushed the massive protests.

In the biggest political trial in years, some 100 politicians, journalists, and activists have been accused of involvement in the alleged “velvet revolution.’’