Iran’s judiciary and its allies have put further pressure on the Rouhani Government with the arrest of the brother of 1st Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
Jahangiri announced the detention on Instagram on Friday. He said he has no “precise information” about the reasons, the charges, or how his brother Mehdi (pictured) was seized. He emphasized that his brother has had no administrative role or responsibility, and said he will wait for more details.
In July, President Rouhani’s brother Hossein Fereydoun was arrested. He is currently on $15 million bail awaiting trial.
The judiciary has said that Fereydoun is involved in corruption around the “Payslips Scandal”, in which Government officials and managers of State-linked firms are accused of excessive salaries and bonuses. However, the detention may also have political motives: hardline judicial officials and the Revolutionary Guards have clashed with the Government over a series of issues, from the opening of the political and social spheres to the Guards’ stake in the Iranian economy.
Before his arrest, Fereydoun had already been forced to step aside as a senior advisor to his brother.
Jahangiri, who has been 1st Vice President since Rouhani’s inauguration in 2013, wrote on Friday, “I hope my brother’s arrest is not a political abuse and that justice, the fight against corruption, and the rule of law apply the same to everyone.”
Mehdi Jahangiri runs the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and is the founder of the private Gardeshgari Bank and of the Tourism Financial Group, with several companies in banking, tourism, construction, oil, gas, petrochemical industry, and mining.
The conservative site Alef has accused Tourism Financial Group of corruption during the administration of Rouhani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It claims the company obtained more than a million square meters of land in Lavizan, a resort area in northern Tehran, in a “legally inappropriate manner”, and accused it of improperly receiving free land next to Imam Khomeini International Airport to build hotels.