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Ahmadinejad Associate Freed Amid Iran Political Infighting

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A former Iranian prosecutor and associate of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was freed after two days of detention amid infighting between Iran’s political elite, state-run media reported.

Saeed Mortazavi was arrested by judicial officials on Feb. 4 after a dispute between Ahmadinejad and his long-term rival, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, exploded in public, with the two trading accusations of wrongdoing and improper conduct in the presence of lawmakers.

During the parliamentary session, Ahmadinejad showed a video apparently featuring Mortazavi and which the president maintained implicated Fazel Larijani, the speaker’s brother, in fraudulent business dealings. Ali Larijani accused the president of devising a “plot.”

Mortazavi, who had been held on unspecified charges, was released from Evin prison at dawn today, according to the Fars news agency. He was freed on bail after completion of a preliminary investigation, the Mehr news agency reported without providing further details. The Tehran prosecutor’s office is also reviewing the case of Fazel Larijani “in light of matters raised in the video tape,” Mehr said.

Tightening Sanctions

With tightening sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program restricting the country’s crude exports and its access to oil revenue, Ahmadinejad has been made the scapegoat in recent months by fellow politicians for his management of the economy. The president has in turn threatened to unveil documents that, he says, show some officials are corrupt.

Tensions among establishment leaders have escalated ahead of a June 14 presidential election in which Ahmadinejad isn’t eligible to run. The nation’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered officials to stop the bickering.

Larijani, the son of a senior cleric and one of five brothers who have held public office, lost the 2005 presidential election in which Ahmadinejad won his first term. Larijani later quit as Iran’s nuclear negotiator over differences with Ahmadinejad.

Sadgeh Larijani, who heads Iran’s judiciary, said today the dispute in the parliament was a “bitter” episode and Ahmadinejad’s allegations against top officials were “immoral, illegal and a crime,” according to Fars.

‘Deviation Current’

“For the time being I will remain silent for the sake of the establishment and to obey the Supreme Leader’s order,” Sadegh Larijani said, pledging to unveil in due time “the nature of the deviation current and its financial and ideological corruption.”

The current of deviation is a term coined by critics of Ahmadinejad to define an ideological movement they say is led by the president and his allies and detrimental to the Islamic republic.

Mortazavi, Tehran’s Prosecutor-General, was suspended in 2010 after the deaths of three men arrested during the country’s protests that followed the contested 2009 election. He was subsequently appointed head of the Social Security Organization by Labor Minister Abdolreza Sheikholeslami.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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