World News

Iran opposition figure Yazdi detained: report

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran detained opposition politician Ebrahim Yazdi Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported, in the latest crackdown on the pro-reform movement in the Islamic state.

Yazdi, who heads the banned Freedom Movement, was foreign minister in Iran’s first government after the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed shah, but was sidelined as religious hardliners took over.

“An informed source has informed IRNA that Ebrahim Yazdi ... was arrested Friday afternoon in the city of Isfahan,” the news agency reported.

Yazdi was twice detained after Iran’s disputed election in June 2009. He is an important opposition voice in Iran but has no influence on state policy and limited popular support.

Since Iran’s presidential election hundreds of reformists have been detained and put on trial in a crackdown on the pro-reform opposition.

The vote was followed by street protests, the most serious unrest since the Islamic Republic was founded, that were put down violently by security forces. Mass detentions and trials followed. Two people were executed and scores of remain in jail.

The opposition says the vote was rigged to bring back hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The authorities deny allegations of electoral fraud.

An Iranian court ordered the dissolution of two leading reformist parties, Iranian media reported earlier this week.

At least a dozen pro-reform publications and most opposition websites have been blocked since the election, making it difficult for opposition leaders to communicate with the public.

Editing by Ruth Pitchford