Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has warned opposition activists to end their street protests over last week's disputed election.
In his first address since the June 12 vote, Ayatollah Khamenei gave his backing to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the definitive winner. He told opposition leaders that if they do not cease their protests, they will be responsible for any violence.
Supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi have held near-daily demonstrations to denounce the election, which they say was rigged in favor of Mr. Ahmadinejad.
Ayatollah Khamenei defended the legitimacy of the poll in an address during Friday prayers, saying that Mr. Ahmadinejad's 11-million-vote margin is too big to have been manipulated. He also attacked what he called interference by foreign powers that had questioned the election outcome.
The ayatollah spoke at Tehran University. Thousands of people packed the campus and surrounding streets, with members of the crowd chanting "death to America" and "death to Britain."
Human rights group Amnesty International expressed concern about the ayatollah's message, saying it essentially gives police permission to launch "violent crackdowns" on people who continue to protest the election results.
Iran's Council of Guardians, a powerful body that supervises the elections, has invited Mr. Mousavi and two other defeated presidential candidates (Mohsen Rezaei and Mehdi Karroubi) to a meeting Saturday to discuss their concerns. The Council has offered to conduct a partial recount of the vote, and a spokesman for the body says it has begun examining 646 complaints of irregularities.
The protests involving hundreds of thousands of people at times have turned violent. Iran has confirmed that at least seven protesters were killed Monday during clashes with pro-government militia. Amnesty International says it has recorded at least 10 killings.
Iranian authorities cracked down on this week's demonstrations, with widespread arrests of opposition members, activists and journalists.
United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay issued a statement Friday, expressing concerns about the arrests. Pillay warned that illegal acts by militia and security forces "could provoke a serious deterioration in the security situation."
Authorities have banned foreign media from covering the demonstrations. News organizations have relied heavily on information published by Iranian citizens through social media services such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.