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Wife says Iran forced her husband's confession

In this Aug. 1, 2009 file photo released by the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency, former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, second from right, is seen with other defendants in a court room in Tehran, Iran. The wife of Abtahi said Monday her husband
In this Aug. 1, 2009 file photo released by the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency, former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, second from right, is seen with other defendants in a court room in Tehran, Iran. The wife of Abtahi said Monday her husband was forced to confess to helping fuel post-election riots and to denounce opposition claims of vote-rigging as lies during a mass trial of government opponents.
Hossein Salehi Ara, Associated Press

BEIRUT — The wife of a prominent pro-reform Iranian politician said Monday her husband was forced into confessing he helped fuel post-election riots as part of a plot to topple the government and said he appeared drugged days before the trial.

The contention by Fahimeh Mousavinejad came as opposition groups claimed the government's prosecution of about 100 activists for leading protests of the disputed election results was a propaganda show.

Mousavingejad's husband, former Vice President Mohammad Abtahi, looked gaunt and disheveled when he confessed in a televised broadcast during the opening session of the mass trial on Saturday.

Mousavinejad said she was under pressure from authorities not to talk about her husband's trial — or, if she spoke, only to support his confessions. Still, she denounced his testimony as coerced and said he appeared drugged when she saw him two days before the trial.

"No one anywhere in the world would believe the confessions of someone whose lawyer hasn't seen him even for one moment, or someone who has been in solitary confinement for 45 days," Mousavinejad, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The broadcast confessions, plus a warning Sunday that opposition figures who criticize the trial will be prosecuted, were seen as an effort to intimidate the reformist movement led by Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims to be the rightful winner of the election. The claim that the confessions were staged also undermined the credibility of the trials.

Iran's largest pro-reform clerical group, the Association of Combatant Clerics, condemned the trial as a "ridiculous show," saying the confessions were of no value.

"The show .... was aimed at demoralizing political activists who are protesting election results and divert the public opinion from the crimes committed against detainees," the group said in a statement on its Web site. "But millions of Iranians won't be deceived by such tactics."