TEHRAN - The wife of Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi says her 62-year-old brother was among those detained after last month's disputed election in what she called a futile attempt to pressure her husband and herself.
Zahra Rahnavard's comments, in an interview published by a pro-reform Iranian news agency Thursday, were the latest in a series of defiant statements by Mousavi and his allies, who insist the June 12 presidential poll was rigged.
Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the declared winner, denies this, as does Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Rahnavard, a prominent artist and academic who broke ground in the conservative Islamic state by campaigning for her husband in the election, told ILNA news agency that her brother, Shahpour Kazemi, was detained more than a month ago.
Rights groups say hundreds of people, including senior pro-reform activists, journalists, academics and lawyers, were arrested during a post-election crackdown on the opposition. The authorities say most of those held have been released.
A defense lawyer voiced concern Wednesday about two other detained Mousavi backers, former government ministers Mostafa Tajzadeh and Behzad Nabavi, saying he did not know where they were being held.
Rahnavard said she and other Iranians would not believe any confessions by force obtained from her brother.
Those who make (such legal) cases should know that by continuing such actions ... the nation will abandon them, and putting pressure on Mousavi and me will not work, she said.
Separately Thursday, Iranian newspapers said seven members of parliament's national security commission had urged Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei to air confessions made by detainees on state television.
In early July, a senior pro-reform cleric, Grand Ayatollah Yusof Saanei, said confessions taken while in captivity and under critical conditions, are religiously, legally and logically invalid and worthless, according to his Web site.
Rahnavard said her brother was a telecommunications expert and not a political figure.
One cannot imagine any accusations against him, such as seeking riots or having relations with foreigners, she said.
But now we are witnessing an organized method of making cases (against people) through immoral ways ... by some people who play with other people's reputation because of their short-term political goals.
The election has plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters taking to the streets last month, and exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite.
At least 20 people died in violence after last month's poll. Mousavi and the authorities blame each other for the bloodshed. Riot police and religious Basij militia eventually suppressed June's protests, but Mousavi and others have remained defiant.
Mousavi said Wednesday he would soon unveil a new charter to make the neglected parts of the constitution functional. He also stressed the need to act within the law.
If we move out of the constitution's framework then we would face uncontrollable anarchy, he said on his Web site.
The authorities have portrayed the opposition protests as the work of rioters backed by Iran's Western enemies.
(Editing by Alistair Lyon and Jon Hemming)