Ahmadinejad: Opposition Leaders Should be Punished

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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday declared that opposition leaders from the recent post election crisis in the Islamic Republic to be prosecuted.

It was the first time the Iranian president has publicly sided with the other hard-line religious and political leaders of the regime who have demanded the opposition leaders be arrested.  It appears all resistance from the pro-reform movement is to be stopped.

Over 100 senior figures and activists from the pro-reform opposition have already been put on trial by the government. They have been accused of participating in the plot to overthrow the Islamic Republic through a "velvet revolution." Prosecutors believe the revolution sparked from the mass protests, which erupted after the election.

Ahmadinejad's comments were delivered Friday in a speech ahead of the weekly Friday prayers in Tehran.  He said those who were on trial were "deceived" in taking part in the alleged plot and that the leaders should be dealt with. 

However, there has been no move to arrest the very top rung of the opposition - Mir Hossein Mousavi and his allies Mahdi Karroubi and former President Mohammad Khatami. Doing so would be a major escalation in the confrontation.

In a harshly worded statement, Khatami lashed out at hard-liners, saying they were accused of "treason" in the public's eyes because of the fraudulent vote. He said the claims that the opposition protests were part of a foreign plot were a "very big mistake" and aimed to "justify violent, illegal and monopolistic behavior" by the government.

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