Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, who just stepped down as Iran’s deputy foreign minister, was arrested Thursday.
Fars news agency first cited “an informed official” and the news was later confirmed by the deputy chief of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.
Esmail Kosari announced that Malekzadeh was arrested on “financial charges and several files at the judiciary,” adding that Parliament had already given the government several warnings about Malekzadeh.
Malekzadeh is also secretary general of the High Council of Iranian Affairs Abroad and an ally of the president’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai. His recent appointment as deputy of the Foreign Ministry’s financial affairs triggered widespread resistance in Parliament, including the threatened impeachment of Foreign Minster Ali Akbar Salehi. On Tuesday, Malekzadeh handed in his resignation and Parliament halted the impeachment process.
Malekzadeh has denied all charges against him and maintains that he has no criminal record.
The establishment has marked Malekzadeh as a member of the so-called “deviant current” allegedly headed by Mashai inside the government.
Recently, several people close to the president’s office have been arrested in connection with the so-called deviant current. Asked for his reaction, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his stance is “the inspiring silence of unity.”