The wife of one of Iran’s opposition leaders pleaded with the country’s supreme leader on Wednesday to protect her family from the regime’s militias.

Fatemeh Karroubi, whose husband Mehdi Karroubi contested last year’s disputed presidential election, said members of the Basij militia and the Revolutionary Guard Corps had been outside the family home in Tehran for three days. The men had shouted abuse at Mr Karroubi, insulted his neighbours and vandalised property, she said. They chanted that the “illiterate Karroubi” was an agent of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.

In an open letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, Mrs Karroubi wrote: “Do you know [any country], even among the backward nations, where the basic rights of individuals are not observed [and where] political opponents and their neighbours are treated like this? Do you think such destruction and immoral behaviour are allowed for the sake of protecting the system?”

Mrs Karroubi was a member of Iran’s parliament from 1996 to 2000. Her husband once served as speaker of parliament and was an important figure in the regime until he allied with the reformist opposition and ran against President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad in last year’s election.

Meanwhile, Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, the most prominent opposition leader, was stopped by a group of men near her house in southern Tehran on Tuesday.

They insulted her and questioned the sincerity of her religious faith, according to an opposition website. Mrs Rahnavard, a university academic who played an important part in her husband’s campaign for the presidency last year, replied: “If seeking freedom, supporting people’s and women’s rights is a crime, I am a criminal.”

The authorities have largely succeeded in suppressing the opposition Green Movement, which has failed to stage big demonstrations this year. Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s most visible critics are now from rival fundamentalist factions in the regime itself.

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