BEIRUT – The wife of a former Iranian vice president on trial for postelection violence said Monday his televised confessions were forced.
Fahimeh Mousavinejad told The Associated Press that her husband, Mohammad Abtahi, seemed "disoriented" and was "no doubt" drugged when she visited him in jail two days before the televised start of the trial on Saturday. She suggested he may have also been drugged in court.
Abtahi, who was vice president from 2001 to 2004, is one of the top figures in the mass trial of around 100 people detained in the postelection crackdown. State TV aired footage of Abtahi and another top reformer Mohammad Atrianfar admitting they fueled postelection protests as part of a foreign plot to topple the government. The opposition says he and other detainees were coerced during weeks in prison.
Abtahi was jailed in the first days after the disputed June 12 presidential election and for weeks was held in secret locations, barred from contact with family and lawyers.
"I personally believe what he has gone through has made him speak the way he has," Mousavinejad said in a telephone interview.
She said the forcing of confessions shows the weakness of Iran's clerical rulers. "They are completely disarmed," she said.
"Confessions in Iran are nothing new," said Mousavinejad. "It shows their weakness and their desperation."
In her prison meeting with her husband on Thursday, Mousavinejad said she had "no doubt" Abtahi had been drugged. But asked if she believed he was drugged during the trial, she said, "I think we should wait a little until he comes out and tells why he said what he did."
In the courtroom on Saturday, Abtahi appeared thin and haggard. The defendants are accused of plotting a "velvet revolution" to topple Iran's Islamic Republic through the mass protests that erupted following the election. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in the vote, but the opposition says the results were fraudulent and the real winner was opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
In Saturday's trial, Abtahi confessed to making preparations to foment unrest with other reformist leaders and that that powerful former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani backed Mousavi to take revenge on Ahmadinejad, who defeated him in the 2005 election, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Among the others on trial Saturday were two foreign citizens — Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, who holds Iranian and Canadian citizenship.
Bahari was quoted by Iranian news agencies as saying in the trial that Western media had attempted to guide events in Iran following the election. Newsweek issued a statement that Bahari's work has "always been balanced and objective" with "fairness evident throughout his decade-long career."
"We are extremely dismayed at this turn of events," the statement added.
Atbtahi was a top aide and later vice president to former pro-reform President Mohammad Khatami, who held office from 1997-2005. Khatami is now a strong ally of Mousavi.