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Ahmadinejad's close ally arrested on corruption charges

June 24, 2011 - Tehran

A close ally of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been arrested on corruption charges, local media reports have said.

Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh was made deputy foreign minister last Saturday, but was forced to quit three days later, after a protest by parliamentarians.

Malekzadeh was under pressure from the conservative-dominated parliament for his connections to Ahmadinejad's controversial chief of staff and close confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, The Guardian reports.

The immediate cause of Malekzadeh's arrest is still unclear. But, according to Iran's judiciary, more than a dozen people close to the president have been arrested since April.

Ahmadinejad faces calls by Iran's establishment to break all ties with controversial chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Mashaei and other aides, who are referred to in state media as members of a 'deviant' group that aims to push clerics from power.hen Malekzadeh was appointed as the deputy foreign minister on Sunday, the Intelligence ministry had raised objections, saying he was 'not qualified.' ran's parliament is believed to be waiting for country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's green light to impeach Ahmadinejad for his support for Mashaei. Analysts believe Khamenei would prefer the president to quietly end his term of office rather than confronting him in public, the report says.

Many believe that the only reason Mashaei himself has not yet been arrested is because Khamenei fears Ahmadinejad might resign if his right-hand man were detained.


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