Ayatollah Khamenei has ruled Iran since the death of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, in 1989. He has been consolidating his predecessor’s ultra-conservative policies for more than 20 years and controls all the country’s political and judicial institutions.
As Supreme Leader, he is responsible for the continuing crackdown on journalists and others since President Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in June 2009. His virulent and inflammatory criticism of media with international links has fuelled the rage of government bodies carrying out the repression. He explicitly agreed to staging show trials of journalists from August 2009 to January 2010 and giving journalists and netizens long prison terms and sometimes death sentences.
As Supreme Guide and commander of the armed forces and Revolutionary Guards, Khamenei is directly responsible for the mistreatment and torture of journalists and bloggers held in Teheran’s Evin prison. Many of the detainees are held incommunicado, in flagrant violation of international law. Reporters Without Borders accuses Khamenei of crimes against humanity.