DUBAI (Reuters) - A close aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and head of the country’s state news agency (IRNA) started a six-month prison term on Wednesday, an apparent sign of the continuing feud between the president and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ali Akbar Javanfekr was one of several Ahmadinejad aides targeted by hardline rivals last year who accused the president of being in the grip of a “deviant current” of advisers seeking to undermine the role of clergy in the Islamic establishment.
The sentence relates to his conviction last November for publishing an article about Islamic dress that was deemed offensive to public decency, IRNA reported.
Three months later he was also convicted of insulting Khamenei on his personal website. It is not clear how or when this happened.
Javanfekr, who is Ahmadinejad’s press adviser, was arrested and taken to Evin prison just as the president was addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the report added.
The feud between the Iran’s elected and unelected leaders erupted in public last year after Khamenei reinstated intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi, who Ahmadinejad had sacked.
Earlier this year, the 56-year-old ultra conservative became the first president in the history of the Islamic republic to be summoned to parliament to face a grilling by hostile MPs.
Speculation that he faced impeachment has proven unfounded and Ahmadinejad is expected to see out his last year in office.
Reporting by Marcus George; Editing by Stephen Powell