EU foreign policy chief urges Iran to release opposition leaders

Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, urged Iranian authorities to release Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, the leaders of Iran’s opposition Green Movmenet.

In a statement issued on Monday, Ashton said that the house arrest of Mousavi, Karroubi and Zahra Rahnavard (Mousavi’s wife) had been imposed “without any legal process and in violation of Iran’s international obligations to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens.”

“Despite repeated calls by the international community, they have had severely limited access to visits, including from their own family members. I once again urge the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to grant them the freedom of movement to which they have a right,” she added.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi spearheaded the Green Movement until mid-February 2011 when they were placed under house arrest after they had called for protests in solidarity with the Arab Spring on 14 February.

On Tuesday, Iranians took to the streets once more to mark the first anniversary of last year’s protests as well as the start of the opposition leaders’ illegal house arrest. Reports from the Iranian capital indicated a tight security in anticipation of the demonstrations. Eyewitnesses say police helicopters have been hovering “abnormally” over the protest route.

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