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Iran lifts cleric’s detention

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian authorities have lifted the house arrest of Iran's most-senior dissident cleric after five years, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Monday. The decision follows reports the cleric's health is deteriorating.

The decision to lift the house arrest of 81-year-old Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri — the man once in line to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Iran's supreme leader — was issued by the Supreme National Security Council, the highest security decision-making body. It will take effect Tuesday.

Montazeri has been confined to his home in the holy city of Qom, 80 miles southwest of Tehran, since 1997, when he said Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was not competent to issue religious rulings.

"According to the directive of the country's Supreme National Security Council, the confinement of Ayatollah Montazeri will be broken tomorrow (Tuesday)," IRNA quoted a senior Interior Ministry official as saying.

The decision by the Supreme National Security Council apparently was approved by Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters.

Montazeri's son, Ahmad, told the Associated Press, "Decisions by the council won't be implemented without the approval of Mr. Khamenei. The news is giving me the hope that he has given his consent."