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Iran Intelligence Minister Chosen

February 17, 1999

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Iran’s president asked parliament today to endorse his choice to replace the intelligence minister, who quit following disclosures that rogue agents in his ministry killed five Iranian dissidents and intellectuals.

In a letter to the Majlis, or parliament, President Mohammad Khatami asked the 270-seat house to approve Ali Yunesi, a cleric who led the investigation into the killings, Tehran radio reported.

Khatami’s hard-line opponents hold a slight majority in the Majlis, but Yunesi is expected to be approved. The Majlis must vote on his candidacy within two weeks.

As the military prosecutor, Yunesi investigated the series of killings of writers and dissidents that began in November. The probe resulted in the Intelligence Ministry’s disclosure Jan. 5 that some of its agents had been arrested in connection with the five deaths.

The revelation, which intensified a long-simmering power struggle between moderate and hard-line factions in the government, led to the resignation last week of the intelligence minister, Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi.

Yunesi, 45, was one of the founders of the Intelligence Ministry after the 1979 Islamic revolution. He later served as prosecutor general of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Yunesi is a hojatoleslam, or middle-ranking cleric. Only clerics have served as intelligence minister since the revolution.

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