Iran’s embassy blasted back at reports of Khamenei’s illness or demise as a “slander,” an Armenian news site reported — possibly the first official response to rumors that have been swirling around the Internet and are may be fraying nerves in Tehran.

Iran watcher Michael Ledeen reported on his blog Tuesday that an “excellent source” assured him the 70-year-old Khamenei “collapsed and was taken to a special clinic” Monday afternoon, his health run down by the strains of a massive popular resistance to the contested June 12 national elections.