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Former Iranian President: Election 'Coup' Against Democracy


Former Iranian president and leading reformist Mohammad Khatami says the outcome of Iran's disputed presidential election is a "coup" against democracy.

Khatami also accused Iran's government of suppressing the rights of people to protest the election results.

His statement Wednesday comes two days after Iran's powerful Guardian Council upheld the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Defeated presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi also criticized the election outcome Wednesday, calling the government led by Mr. Ahmadinejad "illegitimate."

In a statement on his Web site, Mousavi urged his supporters to keep fighting for the rights of the people. He also called for press freedom, election reforms and the release of those detained during post-election protests. Mousavi and Karroubi say the June 12 vote was rigged.

Iran stopped publication Wednesday of a reformist newspaper allied with Karroubi after he vowed to continue his fight against the election outcome.

Iran's police chief says 20 people were killed and more than 1,000 arrested during the large protests following the election. Human rights groups have put the death toll from post-election unrest much higher.

The Iranian news agency Fars quoted Ismail Ahmadi-Moghaddam on Wednesday as saying that most of those detained have been released and the rest are being referred to the public and revolutionary courts in Tehran.

There are conflicting reports of how many of the nine local British embassy staff are still in detention in Iran, after being arrested for allegedly playing a role in the unrest. Iranian state-run Press TV said Wednesday one local staff member of the embassy remains in custody.

In London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reiterated "deep disappointment" at Iran's recent behavior, including the arrests of British embassy staff. He called the action "unjustified" and said it is not acceptable that some in Iran are trying to use Britain "as an explanation for the legitimate Iranian voices calling for democracy."

European Union officials on Thursday are expected to debate a British proposal for all 27 member states to pull their envoys from Iran.

Fars quoted Iran's top military commander, Major-General Hassan Firouzabadi as saying the EU's interference in post-election unrest has jeopardized talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose government took over the European Union presidency, said Wednesday the EU should support those in favor of democracy in Iran, but should be careful not to stir up tension inside the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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