PARIS — Iran has arrested a niece of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, her brother and activists have said, months after she took part in a celebration praising the ousted shah’s widow.
Farideh Moradkhani, who rose to prominence as an activist against the death penalty, was arrested by security forces on Thursday, her brother Mahmoud Moradkhani told London-based Iran International TV on Sunday.
“We are very worried, we had no news…we now know that she is in Evin prison” in Tehran and under the control of the intelligence ministry, he said.
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said she was arrested on her way home and security forces then raided her home and confiscated her belongings.
He said she was now in the infamous Evin Section 209, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence.
There were no details as to why Moradkhani, the daughter of Khamenei’s sister, was suddenly arrested.
#BREAKING Farideh Moradkhani, human rights activist and niece of Ali Khamenei (his sister’s daughter), was arrested and transferred to Evin prison.
His father (Khamenei’s brother-in-law), a longtime critic of the Islamic Republic, had also been imprisoned for nine years in the 1990s. pic.twitter.com/x89EfWLlSY
— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) January 16, 2022
However, social media users pointed to a recent October 2021 appearance at a video conference where Moradkhani eulogized Farah Diba, the widow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was ousted by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Moradkhani addressed the former Empress, known as shahbanou during her husband’s reign, as “dear queen” and called on her to return to the country to lead a “renaissance” of Iranian culture.
The videoconference took place to mark the 83rd birthday of Farah, who is now based in France.
Moradkhani is the daughter of Khamenei’s sister Badri, who fell out with her family in the 1980s and fled to Iraq at the height of the war with neighboring Iran, to join her husband, the dissident cleric Ali Tehrani, born Ali Moradkhani Arangeh.
Khamenei has three brothers and one of his sons, Mojtaba, who was placed under US sanctions in 2019, is considered one of the most powerful figures in Iran due to his work in the office of the Supreme Leader.