TEHRAN  - Iran’s judiciary has rejected a request by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, its spokesman said on Sunday, calling the request’s timing inappropriate. “As we are faced with special circumstances and the country’s priorities are the economy and people’s living conditions, all authorities should focus on solving key issues... visiting a prison is extraneous,” said chief prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie. “More than seven years of his presidency have passed, and no request was made during that time,” he said, according to the ISNA news agency.

Mohseni Ejeie, who also acts as the judiciary’s spokesman, suggested that Ahmadinejad’s sudden interest in Evin was linked to “a person affiliated to (the government) in prison” - an allusion to the president’s press adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr. Javanfekr, who heads the official IRNA news agency and state newspaper Iran, was arrested in September and sent to Evin for a six-month sentence after being convicted of publishing material offensive to Islamic codes and public morality. He has long been targeted by hardline judges and ultra-conservative figures who see him and the president as trying to undermine religious principles. Mohseni Ejeie said the timing of president’s request suggested there was “a political dimension” to it. He added: “In this situation, it is not appropriate.” According to Iranian media, Ahmadinejad had planned a visit on October 8 to Evin, most of whose inmates are political prisoners. But the visit was “postponed” by the judicial authority in charge of the country’s prisons.