Tehran’s jailed mayor freed in attempt to quell power struggle

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) —Tehran’s reformist mayor was freed from jail Wednesday after Iran’s supreme leader stepped in to check a growing power struggle between government hard-liners and moderates.
Tensions that had been mounting since his April 4 arrest on corruption charges erupted Tuesday in a Tehran rally. Riot police wielding batons chased thousands of demonstrators calling for his freedom, arresting about 30 people.
The order for his release came from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who as spiritual leader is Iran’s top authority. The mayor still is expected to face trial, although no date has been set.
Karbaschi’s arrest touched off a major power struggle between moderates and hard-liners inside the government.
Karbaschi was freed from the capital’s Evin Prison, where he was held for 11 days on corruption charges.
Karbaschi’s arrest was ordered by the chief judge, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who belongs to a faction opposed to reforms introduced by the moderate president, Mohammad Khatami.
Khamenei agreed Wednesday to Karbaschi’s release after receiving a written appeal from Khatami and speaking with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, another moderate who heads an influential council that helps set government policy, sources told The Associated Press. Tehran Radio confirmed that Khamenei had ordered the release.
Intervention by Iran’s three top leaders underscored the threat the feud posed.
Karbaschi’s arrest was widely seen as an effort by hard-liners to topple key officials of the president, whose attempts to ease social restrictions and end Iran’s international isolation have been popular with the majority of Iranians.