Tuesday, February 20

Iran detains Supreme Leader’s niece after congratulatory message to former Empress

Correspondent in Jerusalem



Farideh Moradkhani, a 35-year-old Iranian human rights activist, was arrested a week ago in Tehran and transferred to Evín prison, the capital’s main prison. Moradkhani’s case could be that of yet another activist imprisoned by the Islamic regime, but her case is special because she is the niece of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the country’s strongman. The arrest took place six months after the message that the activist sent by videoconference to Farah Diba, widow of the last Shah, in which he conveyed that «we wanted to offer you a birthday present but we thought that the best gift would be our hearts to welcome you to our country. Since your departure, the flowers of our nation have faded and our young generation has lived in despair.”

The message was sent within the acts of Farah Diba’s 83rd birthday.

The arrest was denounced by the brother of the detainee, Mahmoud, who lives in Paris and the news was spread by the opposition Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), an organization based in the United States that functions as a kind of human rights observatory with collaborators on Iranian soil. At the moment there is no official confirmation from the Tehran authorities and there is no reason for the arrest.

Farah Diba was the third wife of Mohamed Reza Pahlevi and the last empress before the return of Khomeini and the triumph of the Islamic revolution in 1979. Since then she lives in exile, these days in France, and in October she received a message from the niece of the Supreme Leader, who in the last For years “he has been an active part of campaigns against the death penalty and in favor of social freedoms,” according to Radio Farda, the Persian-language arm of the US-based Radio Free Europe.

Farideh is the daughter of Badri, the sister of Ali Khamenei married to the cleric Ali Tehrani, a former partner of Khomeini who broke with the Islamic Republic in the 1980s and went into exile in Iraq, from where he criticized the religious authorities in Tehran. Over the years the couple returned to Iran, although one of their sons sought refuge in France.

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