Prominent Iranian cleric says opposition leaders arrested after 2009 vote deserve to be hanged

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A prominent Iranian cleric says two opposition leaders placed under house arrest after the country's divisive 2009 presidential election deserve to be hanged.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati didn't mention Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi by name. Instead, he referred to them as "leaders of sedition," a popular phrase used by hard-liners to describe them. Jannati made the comments in his Friday prayers sermon. State radio broadcast his remarks live.

Jannati said the two are alive because of "Islamic mercy."

Reformists claim Mousavi was the real victor of 2009 elections and that former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won through widespread fraud. Massive protests by Mousavi supporters were crushed by security forces. Both Mousavi and Karroubi were put under house arrest in 2011 amid the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East.