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Ahmadinejad Barred from Visiting Tehran's Evin Prison

Iran's judiciary has rejected a request by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Tehran's Evin prison, its spokesman said on Sunday.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 10/22/2012, 8:39 AM

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Reuters

Iran's judiciary has rejected a request by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Tehran's Evin prison, its spokesman said on Sunday.

"As we are faced with special circumstances and the country's priorities are the economy and people's living conditions, all authorities should focus on solving key issues... visiting a prison is extraneous," chief prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie told ISNA news agency.

"More than seven years of his presidency have passed, and no request was made during that time," he said.

Mohseni Ejeie, who also acts as the judiciary's spokesman, suggested that Ahmadinejad's sudden interest in Evin was linked to "a person affiliated to (the government) in prison" – a reference to the president's press adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr.

Javanfekr was arrested in September and sent to Evin prison for a six-month sentence after being convicted of publishing material deemed offensive to Islam and for insulting Iranian leaders.

Mohseni Ejeie said the timing of president's request suggested there was "a political dimension" to it, saying, "In this situation, it is not appropriate."

According to Iranian media, Ahmadinejad had planned to visit Evin prison on Octber 8, but the visit was "postponed" by the judicial authority, which is controlled by conservative hard-liners who see the president and Javanfekr as trying to undermine religious principles.

Ahmadinejad has accused his political opponents of using the judiciary to imprison his aides and exert pressure on his reign. The judiciary, meanwhile, has accused the president of violating the separation of powers in the Islamic republic.

The episode is seen as another indication of Ahmadinejad’s waning authority and come just eight months prior to the end of his term.