IRANIAN president Hassan Rouhani’s brother has been detained on corruption charges, court authorities said on Sunday night.
Spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said Hossein Fereidoun was taken into custody over allegations of “financial impropriety.”
The president changed his surname to Rouhani, meaning “spiritual,” when he trained as an imam decades ago.
“Multiple investigations have been conducted regarding this person,” Mr Ejehi said. “Other people have been investigated too, some of whom are in jail.”
Mr Ejehi gave no details of the charges but last May Mr Fereidoun was caught up in the so-called “payslip scandal,” when the salaries of top managers at the state insurance company were leaked to media. It showed that some top employees were receiving 50 times the minimum civil service wage, sparking outrage.
But that and allegations that the president blocked corruption probes into other relatives did not prevent Mr Rouhani’s re-election this May in a 57 per cent first-round win.
Mr Fereidoun was part of the diplomatic team that negotiated the 2015 deal with the US and other Western countries allowing peaceful nuclear energy use and lifting sanctions on oil exports.
But hardliners in Iran have attacked Mr Rouhani over the deal, which they say conceded too much — the development of nuclear weapons — for too little.
Obversely, US President Donald Trump also slammed the deal as “terrible” for his country and threatened to “tear it up” during last year’s election campaign.
But he has not yet made any attempt to end the agreement beyond ordering a review, apparently giving way to the advice of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, an oilman who has argued for a pragmatic approach.
Mr Ejehi also said that a US citizen, later named as Chinese-born Princeton university history researcher Xiyue Wang, had been jailed for spying.
The US State Department said: “The Iranian regime continues to detain US citizens and other foreigners on fabricated national security related changes.”