Iranian official denies Ayatollah Khamenei ordered protests crackdown

Bloomberg – A senior official in the office of Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has denied a report the supreme leader ordered President Hassan Rouhani to crack down on protesters.

According to the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency, the official dismissed a Reuters report Monday that Ayatollah Khamenei met with Rouhani and members of the Cabinet on Nov. 17 to greenlight a brutal clampdown that allegedly killed about 1,500 protesters.

The Reuters death toll was based on figured from three unidentified Interior Ministry officials. The number is much higher than the latest figure from Amnesty International, which put the minimum death toll at 304.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiee has called the Reuters figure a “lie,” though he declined to give an official number and said the state was still working on a tally.

Iran was rocked by protests in November after the government increased gasoline prices by as much as 300% and introduced rationing as the economy struggles under crippling U.S. sanctions. The state began to acknowledge that its security forces shot and killed protesters, though it has described many as “rioters.”

— With assistance by Arsalan Shahla