TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's judiciary ordered an investigation on Wednesday into human rights crimes committed by the United States -- a defiant response to a UN report on its own alleged rights violations and to the U.S. charge that Tehran planned to kill a Saudi envoy.
"We must open a special case for America's crimes in which there is an indictment for the crimes it has carried out in this country and other Islamic states," Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.
Larijani appointed chief prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei -- himself under U.S. and European sanctions for alleged rights abuses -- to conduct the investigation. He did not say in what jurisdiction any "indictment" would be applied.
Tehran says both the assassination allegation -- in which an Iranian-American was arrested in New York and charged with plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington -- and the UN report are pretexts manufactured by the United States to increase sanctions pressure and military threats.
Larijani said Washington was using human rights and the "war on terrorism" as "hackneyed excuses ... to achieve power and wealth in the world and cover up its own internal problems."
In his first report since being appointed U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed said he had "catalogued an increasing trend of alleged violations of the fundamental rights of the people."
Iran refused to allow Shaheed, a former Maldives foreign minister, into the country, saying his role was "politicized" and his findings a foregone conclusion.
Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since the 1979 revolution which overthrew the U.S.-backed shah and installed an Islamic government.
Larijani said the abuses to be investigated included U.S. help for the shah's regime in torturing its opponents, U.S. backing for militant groups that have attacked civilians in Iran and U.S. support for "crimes in countries like Egypt."
"While there are very clear charges against America about violations of human rights and terrorism which has the blood of Muslims and non-Muslims on its hands, it has raised faked claims against Iran," Larijani said.
Washington is pushing other countries to tighten sanctions on Iran in response to the alleged assassination plot -- going beyond the four rounds of sanctions the Security Council has already agreed in an effort to put pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.
(Additional reporting by Ramin Mostafavi; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Tim Pearce)