LONDON (Reuters) - Two Iranian opposition leaders have been moved secretly from their homes where they had been under virtual house arrest for calling on supporters to protest against the government, an advocacy group said on Sunday.
Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi had been forced to stay in their homes in the capital Tehran for more than two weeks. Mousavi’s daughters said on the Kaleme website that they had been prevented from approaching the house since February 14.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, which has staff in the United States and Germany, quoted an “informed source” as saying Mousavi and Karoubi, along with their wives, had been moved from their homes to a “‘safe house’ in an area close to Tehran.”
The source said they had not been physically abused and that their new location was not a prison.
There was no official word on their whereabouts.
Opposition website Sahamnews quoted one of Karoubi’s neighbours as saying the security guards which had surrounded his house had left. It now looked deserted.
“For the past three days all the apartment lights have been off and no movement has been seen, not even from the security forces,” the unidentified neighbour was quoted as saying.
Both men, who spearheaded protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in June 2009, face calls from parliament to be arrested, tried and hanged for what government supporters say is their role in stirring “sedition.”
Earlier this month, their supporters took to the streets for the first time since post election protests were crushed at a rally in December 2009.
Two people were shot dead during the February 14 rally in Tehran which was called to show support for uprisings in North Africa.
Each side has blamed the other for the deaths. Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said two people, with links to U.S. intelligence and exiled militant group Mujahideen Khalq Organisation, had been arrested in connection with the killings.
Late on Saturday, former President Mohammad Khatami said the isolation of Mousavi and Karoubi, whose stated aim is to reform rather than overthrow the Islamic Republic, was a tactical error that might radicalise the opposition.
“Unfortunately, such moves pave the ground for people who are against the regime and who don’t care for Iran or Iranians ... to take advantage of the people’s feelings, especially the youths,” Khatami was quoted as saying by the Kaleme website.
Iran Green Voice website has invited people onto the streets of Tehran on March 1, Mousavi’s 69th birthday, to protest the treatment of the opposition leaders. Another is planned two weeks later, on March 15, if their voice is not heard, it said.
Several Facebook pages have called for protests every Tuesday.
editing by Elizabeth Piper