Middle East

Iran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ally Malekzadeh 'arrested'

Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh (file image)
Image caption Mr Malekzadeh held the post of deputy foreign minister for three days last week

An ally of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been arrested, according to the country's media.

Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh is reportedly accused of corruption and denies the charges.

A number of people linked to the president have been dismissed and arrested in recent months.

Mr Malekzadeh was made deputy foreign minister last Saturday, but was forced to quit three days later, after a protest by parliamentarians.

A politician, Esmaeel Kosari, told the Mehr semi-official news agency that Thursday's arrest of Mr Malekzadeh was because of "financial charges".

Correspondents say the arrest appears to be another example of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei using his vast powers to rein in Mr Ahmadinejad, who has often challenged his authority.

Mr Malekzadeh has close connections to Mr Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, whom conservatives accuse of being part of a "deviant current" attempting to promote nationalist politics over Islamic clerical rule.

President Ahmadinejad is thought to favour Mr Mashaie to run in presidential elections in 2013.