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Opposition leader's family visits banned after request to stage rally

Iranian authorities have reportedly banned opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi from receiving family visits after he applied to stage a rally on February 14 in support of anti-government demonstrations in Egypt.

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REUTERS - Iranian security forces have banned the family of opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi from visiting him, his website reported on Thursday, after he applied to stage a rally in support of uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Karoubi and another opposition leader, Mirhossein Mousavi, have asked for permission to stage the Feb. 14 rally, hoping the example of mass protests in the two North African states can restore momentum to their own Green movement.

The two led a wave of demonstrations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election in June 2009, before authorities stamped out the protests.

"Security forces stationed outside of Karoubi's house prevented one of his sons this morning from visiting his father's home and said relatives are not allowed to meet him until Bahman 25 (Feb. 14)," the opposition Sahamnews website reported.

Karoubi's wife was exempted from the ban, the website said, adding that the "de facto house arrest" was apparently related to his call for a rally in solidarity with protesters in Arab countries.

Sahamnews also reported the arrest of two Karoubi allies, Taghi Rahmani and Mostafa Mirahmadizadeh, since Wednesday night. Separately on Thursday, Mousavi's website Kaleme.org reported the detention of his close ally Mohammad Hossein Sharifzadegan.

Iran's chief prosecutor warned opposition supporters on Wednesday not to hold the planned rally, saying they can expect a response from "vigilant" Iranians if they do.

Many Iranians have said they may attend. A Facebook page dedicated to the day has more than 20,000 followers.

It would be the Green movement's first demonstration since December 2009, when eight protesters were killed and more than 1,000 arrested, ending months of mass protests during which Iran witnessed the worst unrest since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
 

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