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Freeing Green Movement leaders is losing value as trump card for Tehran

While the Iranian political establishment could once have energized the disheartened public via the release of the detained Green Movement leaders, such a step is no longer likely to have the same impact it once would have had.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

Iran's presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi (3rd R) joins a crowd of supporters in Tehran June 17, 2009. REUTERS/Demotix (IRAN POLITICS ELECTIONS CONFLICT) - GM1E56I0IW301

In February 2011, Iranian opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — leaders of the Green Movement protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election — were placed under house arrest. Now, for the first time, there is serious talk about their potential release. There are also reports that former Reformist President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) will soon meet with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

These reports come as Iran is grappling with increased foreign pressures on the one hand and sporadic domestic protests over the worsening economy on the other. Although the reports are being quickly rejected from various quarters, those in favor of lifting the house arrests as well as lifting restrictions on Khatami — including being banned from appearing in media — say these potential measures could unify the country.

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