Hengameh Shahidi, a reformist activist and journalist who was recently imprisoned in Iran, has accused President Hassan Rouhani of striking a deal with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) ahead of the country’s presidential elections slated for May this year. According to reformist website Kaleme, Shahidi has alleged that Rouhani is silent over the latest regime crackdown on reformist activists and journalists because the I.R.G.C. has promised the president not to prosecute his younger brother Hossein Fereidun, who is accused of embezzlement and corruption. She has also accused the president of ignoring the latest acts of suppression against activists in the country in return for the I.R.G.C.’s acquiescence to his bid for reelection.
Iranian authorities arrested Shahidi earlier this month. She is reportedly jailed in Evin Prison’s Ward 209, a facility run by the Intelligence Ministry. It is not the first time that Iran’s security agents have arrested Shahidi. During Iran’s controversial 2009 presidential election campaign, she worked as a political advisor to then-candidate Mehdi Karroubi, one of the Green Movement leaders who has been under house arrest in Iran since February 2011. Authorities arrested her as part of the post-election clampdown, and she was sentenced to six years in jail. She was however released after one year.
Shahidi has not provided any evidence of a secret deal between Rouhani and the I.R.G.C., but the Iranian president is no doubt under increasing pressure from his reformist base in the run-up to the elections.
Shahidi’s detention is part of a large-scale crackdown by the Iranian security and judicial authorities against reformist activists and journalists ahead of the May presidential elections. According to reports in the reformist media, I.R.G.C. operatives and Intelligence Ministry agents have arrested more than a dozen social media activists in the past one week alone. The latest wave of arrests has prompted senior reformist parliamentarians to not just condemn the country’s repressive security and judicial authorities but also Rouhani, who has not acted decisively to fulfill his 2013 campaign promise of improving human rights situation in the country and guaranteeing Iranian’s civil liberties.