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Son Of Top Iranian Dissident Cleric Taken Into Custody

The son of one of the founding fathers of the Islamic republic has been arrested to serve a six-year prison sentence for releasing a decades-old audiotape in which his father denounced the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988.

Ahmad Montazeri was summoned to the special clerical court on February 22 and later announced that he would remain in custody, according to a statement on Montazeri's website and Telegram feed.

Montazeri, a 60-year-old Islamic cleric, is the son of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was once the designated successor to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 revolution.

In August, Ahmad Montazeri released a 40-minute recording of his father from 1988, arguing with leading members of the judiciary about the executions.

According to Amnesty International, Iranian officials executed some 5,000 political dissidents at the end of the country's 1988 war with Iraq. Hossein Montazeri was one of the few Iranian leaders to speak out against Khomeini's order to execute the prisoners.

In November 2016 the special court for clergy sentenced Ahmad Montazeri to 21 years in prison on charges of "acting against national security" and "releasing a classified audio file."

But the court reduced the term to six years in view of his lack of previous convictions and the fact that his brother was killed in an attack by a Marxist group that Tehran views as a terrorist organization.

Montazeri's younger brother, Saeed Montazeri, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that his brother had appealed the sentence.

He said it wasn't clear if the appeal was successful.

He said Montazeri's arrest seems to be related to their father's audiotape.

"We don't know officially, but it must be related to the same issue as there hasn't been any other," he said in a telephone interview.

Hossein Montazeri, who was put under house arrest for several years, became the spiritual father of Iran's opposition movement. He died in 2009.

Ahmad Montazeri has been outspoken in his criticism of the Iranian establishment.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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