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Before the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Shariatmadari was allegedly tortured by Iranian Shah's Police or SAVAK (whose role was later took by Islamic Republic's SAVAMA).
A strong supporter of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he has been described as being "a close confidant of Iran’s supreme leader" Ali Khamenei, and as having "links" to Iran's intelligence services. On February 12, 2009, Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of hardliner newspaper Kayhan, wrote a controversial article suggesting former President Muhammad Khatami might be assassinated if he ran again for president, as had ex-president of Pakistan's Binazir Bhutto.
After the controversial 2009 election and weeks of protest, Shariatmadari wrote an editorial in Kayhan alleging that defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was trying to "escape punishment for murdering innocent people, holding riots, cooperating with foreigners and acting as America's fifth column inside the country" and called for Mousavi and former reformist President Mohammad Khatami to be tried in court for "horrible crimes and treason."
Sharitmadari has been accused of playing a key role in the violent interrogations in Iranian prisons, where torture is used. As the Director of Kahyan, Shariatmadari has been involved in several controversies. For example, in 2009, during the first contested presidential elections, Shariatmadari was announced that ' Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami would risk the same fate of Benazir Bhutto if he was elected. After the elections, alongside the Green Party protests, Shariatmadari accused Mir Hossein Mousavi of being a fifth column of the US and causing the deaths of many people.
Furthermore, the wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni has also been at the receiving end of Kahyan reporting. Bruni was accused of being an "Italian prostitute" for her defense of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death in 2007 in Iran for adultery. In addition, on 17 April 2012 Shariatmadari published an editorial in which he stressed Iran's right to enrich uranium to 99%.
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