One of Iran’s most prominent dissident clerics, Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri, has died aged 87.
“Hoseyn Ali Montazeri passed away in his home last night,” state-owned Irna news agency said.
Hoseyn Ali Montazeri was a moving spirit in the 1979 revolution which created Iran’s Islamic state, and was at one stage set to become its leader.
One of Shia Islam’s most respected figures, he was also a leading critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Grand Ayatollah Montazeri issued a fatwa condemning President Ahmadinejad’s government after June’s disputed election.
But that was not his first clash with authority.
He had repeatedly accused the country’s rulers of imposing dictatorship in the name of Islam.
Grand Ayatollah Montazeri had been designated to succeed the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but the pair fell out a few months before he died of cancer in 1989.
In 1997 he famously clashed with Ayatollah Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after questioning the powers of the Supreme Leader.
This led to the closure of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s religious school, an attack on his office in Qom and a period of house arrest.