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Rafsanjani grandson arrested in Iran over protests

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of Iran's Assembly of experts, wipes tears from his face as a man reads a symbolic religious poem about the Shiite's 11th Imam during the 7th session of the Assembly in Tehran February 23, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A grandson of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been arrested for taking part in post-election protests last year, a news agency said on Monday.

Hassan Lahouti was detained by security police Sunday at Tehran airport after arriving on a flight from abroad, the Fars news agency said.

His grandfather, who heads the powerful Assembly of Experts, is still a powerful player in the ruling establishment.

A source close to the family told Fars that Lahouti, believed to be in his 20s, left the country last year days after the presidential vote in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected.

The election plunged the Islamic republic into its most serious internal crisis since the 1979 revolution, when opposition supporters took to the streets in protest against the result.

Lahouti’s mother, Faezeh Hashemi, was among several of Rafsanjani’s relatives held briefly for joining rallies in June, when the unrest first erupted.

Rafsanjani has been criticized by Ahmadinejad supporters for what they said was his failure to give full backing to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the crackdown on the protest movement.

Rafsanjani expressed support for Khamenei, a Shi’ite Muslim jurist who holds ultimate authority in Iran, at a meeting of the Assembly of Experts in February.

Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; writing by Andrew Hammond; editing by Andrew Dobbie