Courageous & Principled: Journalists Isa Saharkhiz and Ahmad Zeidabadi
by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
21 Nov 2009 09:38
Fatemi was born in Nain, in the province of Isfahan in central Iran. He obtained his Ph.D. in France in 1948. After returning to Iran, he was instrumental in founding the newspaper Bakhtar (West) in Isfahan. Bakhtar was later moved to Tehran and became the mouthpiece of Mosaddegh's political group, the National Front. Fatemi, a close Mosaddegh aide and a Tehran deputy to the Majles (parliament), was a leading member of the National Front. He soon became a strong critic of the Pahlavi Dynasty, criticizing the Shah and his family candidly in his editorials.
Fatemi was only 33 when he served in Mossadegh's cabinet as the Foreign Minister. He was the youngest person to take up such an important position in the history of modern Iran. It was Fatemi who proposed the nationalization of Iran's oil industry. The fundamentalist Islamic group, Fadayan-e Islam, tried unsuccessfully to assassinate both him and Mossadegh.At the time of his execution, Fatemi was suffering from a fever and the injuries he sustained from the attempted assassination on his life. In his will, he appointed Mossadegh as the guardian of his only son, Cyrus. Today, a large street in Tehran is named after him and he is respected by all Iranian patriots.
But Fatemi is not the only Iranian journalist who has been a victim of oppression and repression. Over the past century, Iran has been one of the most difficult places for any journalist to work. Hundreds of Iranian journalists have been jailed over the past century, many of them have been murdered or even executed, and hundreds more have gone into exile, either voluntarily or by force.
The situation greatly deteriorated in April 2000 when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered a harsh crackdown on the Iranian press (see below). Since then, at least 250 newspapers, weeklies, and other publications have been closed, and harsh censorship has been imposed. It deteriorated further after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected the President in 2005. And it has continued to spiral down since the rigged June 12 presidential election and the nationwide demonstrations and protests that followed. Many leading reformist journalists and bloggers have been arrested and imprisoned. While all the journalists who have been arrested have demonstrated courage in the face of the harsh crackdown, two of them particularly stand out: Isa Saharkhiz and Dr. Ahmad Zeidabadi.
This article is dedicated to the two of them.
Isa Saharkhiz was born in 1953 in Abadan, in the province of Khuzestan, in southwestern Iran. His family moved to Karaj, a town 40 km west of Tehran, when he was six years old. He finished high school in Karaj, passed the national entrance examination for admission to Iranian universities, and began studying economics at the University of Tehran. He graduated in 1979, and for three years, he was active in the movements that had begun after the Revolution to increase the rate of literacy, and to reconstruct the rural areas.
He was then hired in 1982 by IRNA, Iran's official news agency, as a reporter and economics expert, where he worked for a decade. In the last two years of the war with Iraq, he reported on Iran's military operations directly from the front line. During most of that decade, Mohammad Khatami was the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance (Ershad) to Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, and earlier, President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. IRNA is officially controlled by Ershad, a connection that began the friendship between the two men.
Due to his progressive policy as the head of Ershad, Khatami came under harsh attacks by the right-wing reactionaries, particularly those in the Islamic Coalition Party (ICP), the dominant political group of that era. Khatami had reduced the harsh censorship in effect in the 1980s; allowed the publication of several important dailies, weeklies, and monthlies; and helped foster Iran's film industry, after being dormant for much of that dark decade. Khatami resigned in 1992, in protest, and was replaced briefly by Ali Larijani (currently the Majles Speaker) and then by Mostafa Mirsalim, a member of the ICP. Mirsalim was such a reactionary that he ordered certain words, phrases and passages to be deleted from literary Persian masterpieces, simply because he had found them to be offensive to his reactionary interpretation of Islamic teachings.
After Khatami resigned, Saharkhiz moved to the United States for five years to run IRNA's office in New York. When Khatami was elected President in a landslide in 1997, he appointed Ataollah Mohajerani, a deputy in the 5th Majles, as the Minister of Ershad; and Ahmad Bourghani (1959-2008) as his principal deputy. In turn, the two put Saharkhiz in charge of domestic publications. That began a period of relative freedom of the press in Iran known as the Tehran Spring (named after the Prague Spring of 1968), during which many reformist publications sprung up. Many past state crimes were brought to light, and the vast scale of corruption was brought to light. Bourghani and Saharkhiz are considered the architects of that brief "Tehran Spring."
In addition to helping reformist publications flourish, Saharkhiz was also instrumental in helping the establishment of professional societies for Iranian journalists. Thus, the Society of Iranian Journalists and its offshoots, such as the Society of Young Journalists, Society of Women Journalists, and Society of Freelance Journalists, were formed. Those societies helped journalists fight for their rights, particularly their economic rights, and helped them with issues related to job security and unemployment.
Among the dailies that began publishing at that time was Zan (woman), founded in July 1998 by its editor and publisher, Faezeh Rafsanjani, the daughter of the former President. She was a political maverick who received the largest number of votes in Tehran in the elections for the 5th Majles. Hers was the first newspaper in Iran dedicated almost exclusively to women. Zan began discussing certain issues of importance to women that were considered taboo. It succeeded in positioning women at the center of Iran's political struggle between modernists and conservative traditionalists. From almost the very beginning, Zan came under harassment of the judiciary, which was controlled by the hardliners. At one point, a Zan reporter, Camelia Entekhabifard, was arrested and jailed for 76 days. Zan was finally banned in 1999.
The judiciary used the ban on Zan as an excuse to go after Saharkhiz. It had already closed several other popular dailies, such as Jame'eh (society) and Tous. Under huge behind-the-scene pressure from Ayatollah Khamenei, Bourghani resigned in February 1999, followed by Saharkhiz's resignation after Zan was banned. The resignation began a feud between Saharkhiz and Ayatollah Khamenei that has persisted to date. Four years later, in 2003, the judiciary put Saharkhiz on trial, "convicted" him, and banned him from working for the government for one year.
After Saharkhiz left Ershad, he founded the daily Akhbar-e Eqtesad (economic news), which had a reformist and critical view of the management of Iran's economy. Since even at that time a large part of the economy was controlled by the hardliners, the critical reporting and analysis that Akhbar-e Eqtesad provided did not ingratiate him to the hardliners.
In February 2000, the reformists swept the 6th Majles elections and dominated the parliament. The reformist newspapers that had begun publishing when Saharkhiz was at the helm of the domestic press at Ershad played a key role in the victory. Most importantly, a list of candidates that had been supported by the reformist newspapers was elected overwhelmingly, demonstrating people's trust in the newspapers. The elections also revealed how isolated the hardliners really were.
On Friday, April 14, 2000, during Friday prayers at Tehran University, Ayatollah Khamenei praised "lawful violence" against what he called "agents of the enemy." This was after a carefully orchestrated nationwide uproar by the conservatives against the journalists who had attended a conference in Berlin to discuss the future of reform and democracy in Iran. The Bazaar (the main commercial center) was told to close in protest, and the seminaries held rallies and closed in protest.
On April 20, 2000, Ayatollah Khamenei spoke at a large gathering of Basij forces [the militia force controlled by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)]. He declared that, "10 or 15 newspapers are being directed from the same center, and are the bases of the enemy. They are performing the same task as BBC radio and Voice of America, as well as British and American and Zionist television. This is a form of charlatanism."
That speech was essentially the order to close reformist publications. Abbas-Ali Alizadeh, the judiciary chief of Tehran at that time, said "the Supreme Leader had been really hurt by what these [reformist] publications were publishing and, therefore, we needed to take action." On April 23-24, fourteen reformist publications were closed by the judiciary. They included the dailies Gozaresh-e Rouz (the day's report), Bamdad-No (the new morning), Aftab-e Emrouz (today's sunshine), Payam-e Azadi (the message of freedom), Fath (victory), Arya, Asr-e Azadegan (the era of free thinkers), Azad (free), Sobh-e Emrouz (this morning), and Akhbar-e Eqtesad, Saharkhiz's daily. Also banned were the weeklies Payam-e Hajar (message of Hajar), published by Azam Taleghani, daughter of Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Taleghani [1911-1979] (a progressive and widely popular cleric), Aban, Arzesh (value), and the monthly Iran-e Farda (the Iran of tomorrow).
But like all other Iranian reformists, Saharkhiz did not give up journalism and continued his struggle against repression. He founded the reformist monthly Aftab (sunshine) in December 2000. In its inaugural issue, Aftab pronounced itself "a tribune for dialogue on various subjects, but focusing mainly on reforms and democracy." Some of the most important political and literally figures published their work in Aftab, helping it become a replacement for two important monthlies that had been closed by the hardliners.
One was Kian, a monthly that had been founded in November 1991 by Mostafa Rokh-Sefat, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, and Reza Tehrani, who were all influenced by the political thinking and philosophy of Dr. Abdolkarim Soroush, a chemist by training and one of the most influential Islamic thinkers and reformers in the world. Many reformist journalists who emerged during Khatami's first term in office worked either with the daily Salaam, under the editorship of Abbas Abdi, or Kian, or both. The hardliners banned Kian in 1998 and Salaam in 1999. The other one was Iran-e Farda of Ezzatollah Sahabi, a long time democracy advocate who has been jailed by both the Shah and the Islamic Republic, and who leads the opposition Nationalist-Religious Coalition (NRC).
But, as usual, the hardliners did not tolerate Aftab either. After 35 issues, Aftab was also banned by the hardliners in June 2004. The reason given for its closure was that it had "insulted" Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Saharkhiz began writing for other publications. He had a regular column on the online daily, Rooz, for which he continued to write until his arrest in July.
One of the most memorable incidents involving Saharkhiz and the hardliners occurred in May 2004. In a meeting of the council that monitors the Iranian press, Saharkhiz, who was representing the owners and editors of the press, confronted Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehei, the hard-line cleric who was at that time the Prosecutor of the Special Court for the Clergy [an illegal extra-judicial and extra-constitutional court for controlling dissident clerics]. Ejehei was the representative of the judiciary to the council [he is currently the Prosecutor-General of Iran].
During a debate about an article that had been published in a weekly about relations between the sexes, Ejehei made disparaging remarks about the reformists. Saharkhiz objected to the remarks and said they were an insult against himself and intellectuals. He also challenged Ejehei to take a poll to see who was more popular among people, him and the hardliners, or the reformists.
Ejehei responded by first throwing heavy objects at Saharkhiz, then biting him. The bite mark was glaringly visible when Saharkhiz showed it off to reporters. He took Ejehei to court over the incident, but the case was referred to the Special Court for the Clergy and the case never went to trial -- for obvious reasons.
Saharkhiz is a founding member of the Society for the Defense of Freedom of the Press (SDFP) in Iran. The SDFP has been outspoken in its opposition to censorship and press suppression, and the constant harassment and imprisonment of journalists. Saharkhiz was instrumental in establishing the Golden Pen award [named after an award with the same name given by the Association of World Journalists]. The SDFP awards the Golden Pen every year to a person who has taken important steps to defend the freedom of the press in Iran. Among past recipients are Hossein Ansari-Rad, the cleric and reformist deputy to the 6th Majles who did important work from 2000 to 2004 on behalf of freedom of the press; Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri; and Akbar Ganji, the courageous investigative journalist (who currently lives in the United States).
Saharkhiz is one of the first journalists (if not the first), who directly targeted Ayatollah Khamenei in his writings. He wrote often about the direct role that the Ayatollah plays in all the important decisions that the hardliners make to confront reformists and engage in repression of Iranians. He said often that the reformists must confront the Ayatollah directly, which deeply angered the hardliners.
On Saturday, June 13, the day after Iran's rigged presidential election, security agents raided Saharkhiz's home, threatened his 19-year-old daughter Mahtab (a student at the University of Tehran), and seized computers, CDs, and personal notes of Saharkhiz. On June 20, he was summoned to the court by Saeed Mortazavi, the notorious Tehran Prosecutor at that time, but Saharkhiz refused to go to court; he told Mortazavi that he was traveling.
On June 20, 2009, Saharkhiz was arrested in northern Iran. Three days before his arrest, he had told Der Spiegel, the German weekly, "I am on the run and change homes all the time. I turn on my mobile phone only one hour each day, because they can trace me and arrest me." It appears that that was exactly how the security agents located and arrested him. He also declared that Ayatollah Khamenei was the principal decision maker in staging the election coup. He said that people will not give up until their rights are restored.
While in jail, Saharkhiz's health has deteriorated. He is allergic to certain foods and takes medications for it. According to his son Mehdi, 27, who lives in New York, Saharkhiz's ribs were broken in the struggle that took place during his arrest. Saharkhiz has told his family that he expects to be in jail for a long time. He has also urged people to file a lawsuit against Nokia, the company that sold the hard-line government the technology to trace and hunt down anyone it wanted.
Right before he was arrested, Saharkhiz said,
When we were young, one of our honors was that we would establish a government whose foundation will be "neither East nor West" [one of the main slogans during the early days of the 1979 Revolution], [and] its symbol peace and friendship. The mark of humanity of its citizens [was to be based on] what Hafez [(1320-1389) the great Iranian poet] taught us, namely, "comfort in the two worlds follows these words: Compassion for friends and tolerance for enemies." But what is happening these days [right after the rigged June 12 election], 30 years after the Revolution, indicates that this was just a dream for us young Muslims because the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic has proven that he is willing to do anything just to continue a little longer his dictatorial rule over people.
I know exactly how Saharkhiz feels.
Ahmad Zeidabadi was born in 1965 in Sirjan in the province of Kerman, in south central Iran. He received his Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Tehran. The title of his doctoral thesis was "Religion and Government in Israel." Zeidabadi later published his thesis as a book with the same title. As a result of the research he conducted for his thesis, Zeidabadi became an expert on Israel and the Middle East. His views on Israel and its place and role in the Middle East have always been in sharp contrast with those of the hardliners and the official position of the Islamic Republic. That alone has angered the hardliners who are suspicious of any moderate views toward Israel.
Zeidabadi's career as a journalist began in 1989 right after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. He joined Etela'at (information), the oldest daily in Iran. Since the 1979 Revolution, it has been led by its managing editor Mahmoud Doa'ei, a moderate cleric and member of the leftist clerical organization, the Association of Combatant Clerics. Zeidabadi worked there for a while.
In 1988, Gholam Hossein Karbaschi, who was Mayor of Isfahan in Central Iran, was appointed Tehran's Mayor. He is a reformist and is a close ally of former president Mohammad Khatami. Karbaschi was chief advisor to Mehdi Karroubi during his campaign as a reformist candidate in the rigged June 12 presidential election. As Mayor of Tehran, Karbaschi started publishing Hamshari [fellow citizen], the first newspaper in Iran in full color. Hamshari's editor at that time was Mohammad Atrianfar, another reformist and close ally of Khatami [he was arrested after the June 12 election and as of the time of writing this article was still in jail]. Zeidabadi left Etela'at and joined Hamshahri, which has a circulation of about 500,000. He became well-known and well-respected for his thorough and deep analysis of political issues.
Along with Salaam, Hamshahri played a key role in the victory of Khatami in the 1997 election. Karbaschi also authorized a loan of 250 million tomans (about $400,000 at that time) to the Khatami campaign. Karbaschi was arrested in April 1998, and Hamshahri was accused by the hardliners of illegally supporting Khatami because it was receiving government subsidies. Karbaschi was put on trial. The prosecutor and the judge was none other than Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehei, the same man who assaulted and bit Saharkhiz.
The trial was broadcast live on national television and watched by record audiences. At times the trial turned into a shouting match between Karbaschi and Ejehei, who was making baseless accusations against him. In reality, the trial was nothing more than an unsuccessful attempt by the hardliners to nip Khatami's program of reform in the bud. Even though Ali Mohammad Besharati, the conservative Interior Minister and Karbaschi's boss before Khatami was elected president, testified that Karbaschi had done nothing illegal, Karbaschi was convicted of corruption and misuse of funds in July 1998 and began serving a two-year sentence in May 1999, after his appeal was rejected.
While working with Hamshahri, Zeidabadi was also writing for the monthly Iran-e Farda. Politically, Zeidabadi has always been close to the Nationalist-Religious Coalition (NRC), and it was a natural progression for him to write for Iran-e Farda, which was being published by NRC leader Ezzatollah Sahabi. Zeidabadi was also the editor of the reformist daily Azad (free), published briefly for several months between 1999 and 2000.
On August 7, 2000, Zeidabadi was arrested by security forces. Saeed Mortazavi, the notorious hard-line Tehran Prosecutor said at that time that Zeidabadi had been arrested because he had refused to appear in court after being summoned. Just the day before, Ayatollah Khamenei had ordered the 6th Majles, dominated by the reformists, to set aside a piece of legislation that would have overturned the draconian press law that had been approved by the conservative 5th Majles in May 2000.
Zeidabadi was jailed for seven months in Evin prison, which included two months in solitary confinement (after solitary, he was transferred to the "Quarantine" section of the prison where drug smugglers and thieves are held). This is a tactic used by the hardliners to humiliate political prisoners. He was then transferred to the Amuzeshgah [re-education center] section of the prison, again to humiliate him. He was also jailed for a while in the notorious "Prison 59," a detention center controlled by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, where detainees are beaten and savagely tortured. Zeidabadi went on a hunger strike for 12 days to protest his conditions in prison. He was finally freed on February 28, 2001.
On March 13, 2001, Zeidabadi was arrested again, along with 20 members of the NRC. Ali Mobasheri, head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court, said that those who had been arrested wanted to "topple the government" -- with their pens, apparently! The arrests took place just as Khatami was departing for Russia, a move widely seen as an effort to embarrass him. After Karroubi, who was then Speaker of the Majles, intervened, Zeidabadi was released on a $70,000 bail.
In 2002, Zeidabadi was put on a trial presided over by Mortazavi, the notorious prosecutor. He was given a sentence of 23 months for "propaganda against the Islamic Republic, disturbing public opinion, and acting against national security," all because Zeidabadi's deep and sharp analysis reflected a reality the hardliners didn't want to see, much less accept. Zeidabadi was also deprived of his "social rights" for five years, a vague term that can be interpreted in many ways. His sentence was reduced to 13 months on appeal, and he was jailed in notorious Evin prison on April 13, 2003. He served the full term.
According to Masoud Behnoud, a reformist journalist who now lives in London and was in jail at that time, Zeidabadi told his interrogator that, "'We are in the opposition. The law says that we can criticize [the power base], and perhaps we are willing to insult the Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] in our criticism [as well] and are prepared to be punished for it.'"
In December 2002, the second nationwide elections for city councils were held. By then, many people were already disappointed with the slow pace of reform. In particular, the people of Tehran were greatly frustrated with its reformist-dominated city council whose members had essentially spent four years fighting one another. As a result, only 12% of eligible voters in Tehran voted in those elections. The result was that the new 16 members of the Tehran city council were all hardliners; they selected Ahmadinejad as the new Mayor.
Ahmadinejad appointed Mansoor Sheikh Attar [a chemical engineer] as the new managing editor of Hamshahri, who turned it into the mouthpiece of the hardliners around Ahmadinejad. Sheikh Attar promptly forced Zeidabadi out of Hamshahri in Spring of 2003. Sheikh Attar himself was later fired [presumably for not being enough of a hardliner!], and is now Iran's ambassador to Germany.
In April 2007, Zeidabadi wrote an open letter to Ayatollah Khamenei. He said that he had wanted to write the letter while in jail, but decided against it because he did not want the letter to be interpreted the wrong way. He asked why criticism of the Ayatollah's decisions and actions were banned in Iran. He asked him why the Iranian people must hold the same views on Iran's nuclear program as the Ayatollah's. Zeidabadi said that the people were concerned about the issue and its implications for the future of Iran, and that, due to the importance and sensitivity of the issue, people within the political establishment should be allowed to hold different views [than the Ayatollah's] and express them freely. The letter deeply angered the hardliners.
In 2007-2008, Zeidabadi worked with the weekly Shahrvand-e Emrooz [today's citizen], which was later banned by the hardliners. He also began writing regularly for Rooz [day], the online daily published in Europe. Many of his columns were devoted to the Middle East and Israel, his areas of political expertise.
Zeidabadi is also a member of the board of directors of the Society of Iranian Journalists. He was also a member of the policy committee of the Organization for University Graduates of Iran, known as Advaar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat (ATV). The ATV represents a group of former university student activists and has been an outspoken critic of the hardliners. Many of its leading members have been repeatedly arrested. In January 2008, Zeidabadi was elected president of the ATV.
In one of his first articles about the presidential election of June 12, published two months earlier, Zeidabadi wrote, "I believe that the failure of the reformists in recent elections has been due to two factors. One is that every reformist party selects a candidate internally, without consulting other reformist groups, and then asks other groups to support that candidate. The second reason is that the reformists have been unable to convince influential groups [to support their candidates] or even participate in the election."
When it appeared that Khatami may run for the presidency again, Zeidabadi urged him not to run. In an article on that topic, he wrote that Khatami was a cultural figure, not a political one, and that he would be unable to lead a complex country like Iran. He said that running for president may hurt Khatami's credibility with the people. In my opinion Zeidabadi was wrong on the issue; it was Khatami who most terrified the hardliners [Ayatollah Khamenei forced him out of the election]. But Zeidabadi's honesty in expressing such an unpopular view was truly admirable.
Zeidabadi and the ATV then tried to convince Abdollah Nouri to run. Nouri, Khatami's first Interior Minister and a close aide and confidante of Ayatollah Khomeini, was an outspoken critic of the hardliners and was jailed for more than three years. Nouri was willing to run, provided that there was a consensus among the reformists about his candidacy. But the most important reformist parties -- Islamic Iran Participation Front, Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization, and Executives of Reconstruction -- were not willing to support Nouri's candidacy; they were afraid that the Guardian Council, the Constitutional body that vets candidates for most elections, would reject his candidacy. The National Trust Party, another reformist group, had already nominated Karroubi as its candidate.
The ATV, led by Zeidabadi, tried to hold discussions with the two leading reformist candidates, Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi. It presented the two with a list of demands, and asked the candidates to address them. Mousavi never responded to the list. After extensive discussions between the ATV and the Karroubi camp, the ATV formally endorsed his candidacy, and was very active in his campaign.
Almost immediately after the rigged election, Zeidabadi was arrested. For 17 days he was held in a cell no larger than 1 by 1.5 meters. He went on a hunger strike for another 18 days in solitary confinement. For 35 days he was held alone in absolute silence in a completely silent part of Evin prison, cut off from any communication whatsoever with the outside world. The absolute silence affected him so much that, according to his wife Mrs. Mahdiyeh Mohammadi, he wanted to commit suicide.
Since then, he has been savagely beaten in jail in order to force an apology out of him to Ayatollah Khamenei for the open letter that he wrote. He has been beaten for referring to the Ayatollah as the "leader," as opposed to the "Supreme Leader," in his letter. Mrs. Mohammadi has said that her husband's interrogator has told him that, "'We will crush you here. We will not allow you to leave the prison as a hero.'"One of the "offenses" that Zeidabadi has been charged with is trying to persuade Abdollah Nouri to run for president [which goes to show how the hardliners view Nouri]! Another "offense" is that he has characterized the conservative newspapers as those "that bow to and praise the power [of the hardliners]." Although a bail has been set for him, and the Prosecutor General has issued the order for his release three times, he still has not been released after more than four months in custody, simply because the true powers that act behind the scene do not want him to be released.
As the ATV said in a recent statement, "The unforgivable 'offense' of Zeidabadi is that, although oppressed, he is willing to sacrifice his life for his ideals of freedom and respect for human rights. His 'offense' is that he has called on those centers of power that have most of the power to exhibit a bit of responsibility [toward people]."
Zeidabadi and his wife, Mahdiyeh, have three children, Parham, Parsa, and Pouya. Mahdiyeh's parents were active against the Shah and imprisoned by his government. As she told Saeed Mortazavi, "I was in jail even when I was a 3-month-old baby, when my parents had been imprisoned. You cannot scare us of jail." Many of Zeidabadi's articles can be found here.
One clear indication that the hardliners have nothing against both Saharkhiz and Zeidabadi is that, in the long litany of "offenses" that the prosecutor read out during the Stalinist show trials of the reformist leaders -- he accused most of them of having links to, or acting on behalf of foreign powers -- the name of the two never came up. The two of them have such a clear and distinguished record that even the hardliners were unable to find a minor "stain" on their record.
Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau