Iran protests not foreign-backed

  TEHRAN: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday he does not accuse the leaders of the post-election violence in June of being backed by foreign states, state television reported.

"I do not accuse the leaders of the recent incidents to be subordinate to the foreigners, like the United States and Britain, since this issue has not been proven for me," Khamenei said in a statement read out by a newsreader.

"This plot was defeated, since fortunately our enemies still do not understand the issue in Iran," added the statement, read out over pictures of Khamenei.

"Our enemies were given a slap in face by the Iranian nation, but they are still hopeful and they are pursuing the issue," he said.

On August 3 Khamenei hailed the "unprecedented" vote that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power as he confirmed him in office following the disputed June 12 presidential election that led to deadly street unrest.

The regime blamed supporters of Ahmadinejad's main rival Mir Hossein Mousavi and other defeated candidates for sparking the political turmoil, as well as accusing foreign governments of plotting to destabilise the country.

Iran expelled two British diplomats in June after accusing London and other foreign powers of fomenting the unrest. Britain retaliated by expelling Iranian diplomats.

Iran also restricted foreign media coverage during the post-election unrest and expelled several foreign journalists, including the BBC correspondent in Tehran.

Iran has already staged mass trials of more than 140 people on charges linked to the massive demonstrations and violence that followed Ahmadinejad's hotly disputed victory.

Among those on trial over the unrest are British and French embassy staff and a French woman university teaching assistant.

"We should not proceed in dealing with those behind the protests based on rumours and guesswork," the Khamenei statement said. "The judiciary should only give rulings based on solid evidence, not on circumstantial evidence."

The court hearings, open only to Iranian news agencies and which opposition leaders denounced as "show trials," have angered the international community and heightened tensions in the worst political crisis since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Khamenei also indicated on Wednesday that members of the security forces who took part in the post-election crackdown were not immune from prosecution.

"I appreciate the work of the police and basij (Islamic militia) in dealing with the riots, but this does not mean that some of the crimes which occurred will not be dealt with and anyone who is a member of those two who committed a fault should be dealt with," he said.