The Iranian government has seized and detained several hundred activists, journalists and students across the nation, in one of the most extensive crackdowns on key dissidents since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Even as unprecedented protests broke out on the streets after the June 12 disputed presidential election, the most stinging backlash from authorities has come away from the crowds through roundups and targeted arrests, according to witnesses and human rights organizations. They say plainclothes security agents have also put dozens of the country’s most experienced pro-reform leaders behind bars.
The Iranian government says only that unspecified figures responsible for fomenting unrest have been taken into custody.
The arrests have drained the pool of potential leaders of a protest movement that claims President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the election by fraud. They also point to the potential for high-profile trials — and serious sentences — before a special judicial forum created to handle cases from the unrest.