Iran arrests top reformist from banned party, trails 5 spies

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TEHRAN: Iran has arrested a top reformist from a banned political party which backed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in last year’s presidential election, the ISNA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Ali Shakouri-rat, a leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, was "arrested yesterday (Tuesday) night for security reasons," the news agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying.

Shakouri-rat is known for his outspoken criticism of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

In September, Iran banned two reformist parties — the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organisation — after they backed Mousavi in the June 2009 presidential election.

The two parties were accused of undermining national security.

After the disputed election results which gave Ahmadinejad a second term, several high-ranking members of both parties were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms in a major government crackdown on reformists, political activists and journalists.

Meanwhile, Iran will soon put on trial five people accused of spying for "enemies" on the Islamic republic’s defence, aerospace and cyber programs, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on Wednesday.

The prosecutor pointed an accusing finger at the United States and warned officials against employing people who "may not be loyal and pass information to enemies," state television’s website quoted him as saying.

Dolatabadi did not identify the five who appeared to be Iranian nor did he specify a date for the trial.

The group includes a 28-year-old who had been "working in aerospace field and passed a lot of information to the enemies" and another person "who gave very detailed information about defence issues to the enemy," he said.

"A 33-year-old person who had links with foreign services and received lots of dollars to give very important information on the judiciary and cyber issues to them" is among those to be tried, the prosecutor added.

Earlier this month Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said that authorities had arrested several "nuclear spies" who were working to derail Iran’s nuclear program.

Moslehi’s remarks came against a backdrop of reports that the Stuxnet worm was mutating and wreaking havoc on computerized industrial equipment in Iran.

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