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19 Jan 2010 14:191 Comment

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective.

Iranian academics fear more killings

Nature | Jan. 19, 2010

Iran's scientific community is reeling after the assassination on 12 January of Masoud Alimohammadi, a particle physicist at the University of Tehran.

Alimohammadi was killed by a bomb as he got into his car to go to work. "Everyone is worried that this may be only the start, and that there may be more killings of academics to come," one researcher says.

Nature interviewed half a dozen scientists in Iran who knew Alimohammadi, all of whom requested anonymity. They are mystified as to why he was singled out. "I could expect that some influential political figure be assassinated, but not him," says one. Like many intellectuals in Iran, he was politically engaged, but far from being a political activist, the researchers say.

Mottaki calls for return of diplomat in Norway

Gooya
| Jan. 18, 2010

In a joint press conference with his Gergian counterpart on Monday, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that he awaited the return of the Iranian consulate employee who requested political asylum in Norway.

Mohammed-Reza Heydari, an Iranian diplomat in Oslo, said he resigned from his post on account of his government's violent suppression of demonstrators on the day of Ashura (December 27).

"This individual handed in his resignation to the Iranian Embassy in Norway and given that his resignation did not meet with approval, he should have ended his work there and resumed work at the Foreign Ministry. This is the normal procedure and this is why we hope to see him continue his services [to the country] in Norway."

Tajzadeh due in court in February

Tabnak |
Jan. 18, 2010

Mostafa Tajzadeh, a leading reformist figure, has said that until a complaint he filed a decade ago is brought to court, he will not be attending any court hearings, according to his wife.

"My husband believes if they had heard his complaint none of the present problems would have occurred," Fakhralsadat Mohtashami, Tajzadeh's wife, told an Arya reporter.
"Tajzadeh has said that he will not appear in his court hearing scheduled for February 20 and the judge can hand down any verdict he pleases and carry it out."

Iran clears Russian fighter jet to fly to Bahrain air show

MNA | Jan. 19, 2010

The flight of the Russian Su-27 fighter over Iran en route to Bahrain has been agreed with Tehran and will take place on Wednesday [20 January], Interfax has been told at the Russian embassy in Iran.

"The issue of the Russian fighter flight to Bahrain has been settled. The aircraft will depart tomorrow," an embassy official has said.

He added that the earlier difficulties had been purely technical and had been caused by the lack of necessary coordination between several departments.
It was reported earlier that the Iranian aviation authorities had refused to let through the Russian Su-27 fighter, which was heading for Bahrain to take part in an international air show.

Iran refuses passage to Russian cargo plane carrying jet to Bahrain

MNA | Jan. 19, 2010

Iran's aviation authorities have refused to allow a flyover by a Russian transport aircraft which was to deliver  to Bahrain a Su-27SKM fighter which has been designated to take part  in the first international aerospace exhibition Bahrain International Airshow (BIAS) 2010 which is opening on Thursday [21 January].

"The official motive for the refusal to allow our aircraft to fly  over Iranian territory is that relevant requests had not been submitted through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on time. The  transport aircraft carrying the Su-27 landed in Astrakhan and is  there now," a source in Moscow told Interfax-AVN on Tuesday.

The source said that the Ministry of Industry and Trade had  submitted paperwork concerning the participation of the Su-27SKM in  the Bahrain air show to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on time.

Nevertheless, the aircraft's passage through Iran's airspace was not  fully coordinated. [Passage omitted]

Iran privatization body bans four companies

Siyasat-e Ruz | Jan. 19, 2010

The Privatization Organization carried out an unexpected action and banned four investment organizations from participation in the stock exchange because of their debts. These include Mehr-e Eqtesad, Shasta, Metal Mines Development, and Fulad Pension Fund.

While the implementation method of the Article 44 [privatization] and privatization of the state companies are criticized by various classes of society, the Privatization Organization performed an unexpected action and banned some buyers, who had debts from their past trading and had not paid the instalments, to participate in a market for fresh offers.

The story of this new season of the Privatization Organization started when some buyers of the general blocks such as Melli Mes, Fulad-e Mobarakeh, Iralco, and Traktorsazi were not able to pay the six-month instalments, which were for 20 per cent cash money of over 100bn tomans [100m dollars] trades on time, and they were required to be pressurized by the Privatization Organization.

0733ce12ae078ff0f3cf97e45e4a99d72cfd3169-1.jpgIranian president rides bicycle to mark Clean Air Day
Fars | Jan. 19, 2010

The Iranian president has made a short bicycle ride in Pardisan park in Tehran together with a group of government members, state radio reports.

After that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and government members visited children's art exhibition held in connection with Clean Air Day.

The Iranian president is due to make a speech at the Social Hall of Pardisan park at the presence of activists of Clean Air Week [on 19 January].

Iran to launch new range of satellites

Fars | Jan. 19, 2010

Brigadier General Vahidi, the defence minister, has said that apart from Tolou satellite a new range of satellites will be launched during Fajr celebrations (1 to 11 February - anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution).

According to a report by the defence correspondent of Fars, Brigadier-General Ahmad Vahidi, the minister of defence and logistics of the armed forces, on the sidelines of the nineteenth international conference on the Persian Gulf talked to reporters and commented on the launch of Tolou satellite during Fajr celebrations. He said: "At the moment a few teams are involved in the production of this satellite and the team involved in the construction of Omid satellite will also launch their new product."

In response to a question about the possibility of an attack by America on Iran's nuclear facilities, Vahidi said: "There have been contradictory reports about this and because of these threats Iran built Fordo nuclear site which has better security conditions. We do not think that America will act unwisely and attack Iran."

Regarding ties with Turkey the defence minister said that defence relations between the two countries are being strengthened day by day adding: "Turkey's decision to prevent the Israeli military exercise in that country was a major defence step in this region and it was welcomed by Iran."

Regarding America's decision to set up a defence shield in Turkey, the defence minister said that the issue was "ambiguous" and the American politicians "are not able to determine a specific prospect on the issue". "We do not think that our friends in Turkey take any actions which are against Iran", Vahidi added.

Iran police say public help in arresting 'rioters'

Reuters | Jan. 19, 2010

Iranian police say tip-offs from the public helped the force to arrest 40 people who took part in violent anti-government protests last month, an Iranian news agency reported on Tuesday.

In a bid to track down people involved in the protests on Ashura, the day of ritual Shi'ite mourning that fell on December 27, police have published pictures of scores of suspected rioters and asked the public to help identify them.

The move was a clear warning to the pro-reform opposition and a further sign of the hardline authorities' determination to put an end to demonstrations that have continued to rock the Islamic Republic since last year's disputed election.

More than 40 arrested after demo photos: Iran police

AFP | Jan. 19, 2010

More than 40 people have been arrested on the basis of tip-offs after police circulated photographs of demonstrators at a December rally which turned deadly, a police website reported on Tuesday.

But the reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami defended the protesters and condemned the new wave of arrests of government critics launched after the bloody protests during the Shiite mourning rituals of Ashura on December 27.

In a rare measure police publicised photographs of the protesters encouraging people to help with their arrest.

"After the publication of pictures of Ashura day rioters on the police website and in the police special edition ... more than 40 elements of sedition were identified and arrested with the cooperation of noble Iranians," the website said.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose disputed June re-election has triggered a string of protests over the past seven months, has accused Iran's arch foes the United States and Israel of organising the Ashura demonstration.

The special edition of a police publication, which came out on January 13, ran photographs taken on the Ashura day of anti-government demonstrators.

The eight-page publication appealed for the general public to come forward with "information and documents regarding the photographs," providing a phone number for informants.

It ran close-up shots of men and women on the capital's streets, with the faces of wanted participants in the rally circled in red. Some of the pictures show a police car being attacked and stone-throwers.

Eight people were killed as clashes erupted between security forces and opposition supporters on the day.

Despite the roundup, Khatami, a key figure in the opposition camp which has infuriated hardliners with its street protests, defended the protesters.

Khatami, who was meeting with a group of released post-vote detainees, slammed those in power who "commit violence with complete immunity" against demonstrators.

Iran says may hit Western warships if attacked

Reuters | Jan. 19, 2010

Iran's defence minister warned on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic could strike back at Western warships in the Gulf if it were attacked over its nuclear program, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Ahmad Vahidi said there were now more than 90 war vessels in the Gulf -- a waterway crucial for global oil supplies -- and that they had created a "military environment" there.

They included submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers, he said during a conference in Tehran on the Persian Gulf.

"What is the reason underlying the deployment of this many warships and what aim are they pursuing ... are they arrayed against Iran?" Fars quoted Vahidi as saying.

Iran finds traces of terrorists behind Khoy attack

Press TV | Jan. 19, 2010

Iran's security forces have found traces of the terrorists who were involved in the recent assassination of Khoy Prosecutor Vali Haji-Qolizadeh.

"Security and police forces launched an investigation into the incident in the wake of the attack and arrested four suspects in connection with the assault," Khoy's Governor Ebrahim Mohammadlu said.

"Following the attack, the Security Council of the West Azerbaijan Province held an emergency meeting and the security forces are hard at work to identify the elements behind the terrorist attack," he added.

Iran official says Kurdish guerrillas claim killing

Reuters | Jan. 19, 2010

An Iranian official said on Tuesday that Kurdish guerrillas had claimed responsibility for the killing of a prosecutor in a northwestern city, the ISNA news agency reported.
Vali Haji Gholizadeh, prosecutor in the city of Khoy in West Azerbaijan province bordering Turkey, was shot dead in front of his home on Monday night.

Mohammad Ali Mousavi, head of the provincial prosecutor's office, said three people had been arrested so far in connection with the shooting and that investigations were still under way.

"Based on the obtained information, the PJAK group has claimed responsibility for the assassination of Khoy's prosecutor," ISNA quoted him as saying, without giving details.
Another official earlier said four suspects were arrested.

Iran: Historic mosque closed after Tehran clashes

AKI | Jan. 19, 2010

The family of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Iranian republic, has closed the historic Jamaran mosque, north of the capital Tehran, because of apparent security concerns. According to the Iranian reformist site, Rahesabz, the mosque was closed on the orders of Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, nephew of the late ayatollah.

The decision was made following clashes between government Basij militias and anti-government protesters in December. The mosque will be closed to the public and not be available for any ceremonies to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution in February.

On 26 December crowds had gathered near the mosque, where reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami was due to deliver a speech to mark the Shia holy day of Ashura.

A number of protesters were arrested after they reportedly shouted "death to this dictatorship" and "if Khomeini was alive, he would sure be with us," witnesses said.

The attack at the mosque provoked a strong reaction from government critics who condemned the violence.

Iran parliament Speaker defends TV debates on poll aftermath

Mehr | Jan. 19, 2010

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has stated that televised debates between politicians should not be temporary, saying holding such debates should turn into a strategy for Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

These debates can be a good solution to resolve political, social and cultural issues, and all experts should be given the opportunity to air their views on the programs, he said on the sidelines of a conference on the Gaza Strip in Tehran.

The IRIB has started a series of televised debates over the post-election incidents. The programmes have been warmly welcomed by the public.

Mehr | Jan. 19, 2010

Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdal Mahdi met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday.

Tehran and Baghdad will stand on each other side forever and will defend the rights of each other's nations in various areas, said
Ahmadinejad.

"Preserving unity and integrity of countries in the region is the only sure way to foil enemies' plans and plots," he stated.

The Iraqi vice president, for his part, said that Iraq considers the expansion and consolidation of ties with Iran as essential.

"Issues facing the region can not be resolved without the presence of Iran," he added.

Iran signs 1 bln euro deal with German firm-report

Reuters | Jan. 19, 2010

A state-owned Iranian engineering company has signed a 1 billion euro ($1.44 billion) deal with a German firm to help improve Iran's gas distribution grid, a semi-official news agency reported on Tuesday.

Mehr News Agency, citing the head of Iran's Gas Engineering and Development Company, did not name the German firm which it said had agreed to manufacture, install and commission 100 gas-fuelled turbines and turbo-compressors. It did not say when the contract was signed.

The report came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Iran faces further sanctions unless it changes stance in talks over its nuclear programme. ($1=.6945 Euro)

Iran leader warns opposition ahead of revolution day

Reuters | Jan. 19, 2010

Iran's supreme leader called on the opposition on Tuesday to distance itself from the Islamic Republic's Western enemies, in a warning ahead of expected new anti-government protests next month.

Tension has risen in Iran after eight people were killed in clashes between the security forces and opposition supporters on Ashura, the ritual day of Shi'ite mourning that fell on December 27.

It was the worst violence in the major oil producer since the aftermath of last year's disputed presidential election and was followed by the arrests of scores of pro-reform figures in a fresh crackdown by the authorities.

Iran raps UN inaction over kidnapped diplomats

Press TV | Jan. 19, 2010

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has criticized the international organizations, including the United Nations, for their inaction to determine the fate of four kidnapped Iranian diplomats in Lebanon.

"Unfortunately, due to the reluctance of the international organizations and related sides, particularly the Zionist regime, our all efforts and actions regarding the issue remain unclear," Mottaki was quoted as saying.

During the invasion of Lebanon on July 4, 1982, four Iranian diplomats were kidnapped by militiamen and Israeli forces at an inspection point in northern Lebanon.

Iran leader warns opposition ahead of revolution day

Reuters | Jan. 19, 2010

Iran's supreme leader called on the opposition on Tuesday to distance itself from the Islamic Republic's Western enemies, in a warning ahead of expected new anti-government protests next month.

Tension has risen in Iran after eight people were killed in clashes between the security forces and opposition supporters on Ashura, the ritual day of Shi'ite mourning that fell on December 27.

It was the worst violence in the major oil producer since the aftermath of last year's disputed presidential election and was followed by the arrests of scores of pro-reform figures in a fresh crackdown by the authorities.

Jaras says Ebrahim Yazdi's life is in danger

Gooya | Jan. 18, 2010

Ebrahim Yazdi's friends and family have appealed to the international community to mediate his release due to concerns about his declining health condition.

Yazdi, who was the interim Iranian government's foreign minister in 1979, is 79 years old and suffers from various health conditions. He underwent surgery a few months back and was treated for cancer abroad two years ago.

One of Yazdi's close friends told Jaras on condition of anonymity, "We ask all philanthropists of the world and international communities to help us with the release of our secretary general so that he can seek medical attention."

"We are very concerned about him," he added.

Yazdi was arrested for the third time this year at 3 a.m. on Dec. 28 -- one day after the Ashura protests in Tehran.

Yazdi, who was arrested for 72 hours after the June 12 presidential election despite his poor physical condition, has come to be known as Iran's most senior political prisoner.

Trial of five Ashura protesters begins in Tehran
Gooya | Jan. 18, 2010

The trial of five Iranians indicted in connection with the Ashura protests commenced in branch 15 of the Revolution Court in Tehran.

Judge Mohammad Salavaati presided over the case and began the session by stressing that based on the request of Iran's Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei only God and the Quran would be taken into consideration in this trial.

After reading the charges, a video of the Ashura protests was screened.
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jaffari-Dolatabadi appeared in court at 11:10 am.

Judge Salavati asked reporters not to use the names of the defendants in their reports.

Photographer Atashi arrested with husband

Gooya | Jan. 18, 2010

A report suggested that photographer Mehraneh Atashi has been arrested along with her husband.

One of Atashi's close friends told BBC Persian that security officers took Atashi and her spouse Behrang Tonokaboni into custody on Jan. 12, 2010 after searching her residence and confiscating her personal belongings including her computer. Atashi's friend claimed that her husband had contacted his family and informed them about their arrest.

The reason for the arrest of the Atashi couple is not yet known.
Following the Ashura protests in Tehran, the crackdown on Iranian figures has surpassed journalists and non-political personalities have been taken into custody.
Among the detainees are Farhang-o Ahang editor-in-chief Behrang Tonokaboni, Farhang-o Ahang columnist Arvin Sedaqat-Kish and literary critics Ardavan Tarakmeh and Khalil Darmanki.

Nabavi appeals 5-year jail sentence

Khabar Online | Jan. 18, 2010

Behzad Nabavi's lawyer said that his client's case had been referred to branch 54 of the Tehran Province Appeals Court.

"After the initial verdict was handed down, an appeal was lodged on behalf of Behzad Nabavi and presently the case has been sent to branch 54 of the Tehran Province Appeals Court," Saleh Nikbakht told ISNA.

He added that while Mrs. Nabavi had requested a leave from prison for her husband for medical purposes, "so far this request has not been met with approval."

Branch 15 of the Revolution Court sentenced Nabavi to five years in prison.

Iran's Leader criticizes IRIB performance

Khabar Online | Jan. 18, 2010

Iran's Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei criticized the state broadcaster for poor coverage of the news about the return of the recently released Iranian diplomats from Iraq.

In a meeting with the Iranian diplomats who had been arrested by U.S. forces in Erbil, Iraq, Ayatollah Khamenei said IRIB had not done its duty in covering the news of the diplomats' return to the country.

According to the Panjareh weekly, Iran's Leader was unhappy with the way Iranian media covered the incident.

Mohajerani: I'm ashamed

Tabnak | Jan. 18, 2010

Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami's Minister of Culture and Islamic guidance slammed the stance recently adopted by Akbar Ganji.

Ataollah Mohajerani reacted to Ganji's remarks about Shia religious beliefs, saying, "Such worthless remarks do not merit a response."

"Ganji's slandering of the Imams and the Imam Mahdi (Messiah) has caused me serious doubts about my signing of the letter by five Iranian intellectual expats, as I do not want my name to be placed alongside [that of] the holder of such views and I feel ashamed about this."

IRIB struggling to sway reformists to attend live debates

Khabar Online | Jan. 18, 2010

Amid efforts by the Iranian state broadcaster to calm the country's political atmosphere by holding live debates, officials have been trying to convince reformist figures to go on air.

The biased post-election performance of the IRIB has not only drawn criticism from even Principlists, who are in favor of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but it has also resulted in the refusal of reformist figures to participate in IRIB-hosted debates.

A number of reports have suggested that the broadcaster has been trying to persuade reformists to appear in its live debates.

The presenter's relative impartiality in the debate between Alireza Zakani and Javad Etaat has been interpreted as a green light for reformists to participate in the debates.

Mashhad bomber had no political affiliation

Khabar Online | Jan. 18, 2010

The Mashhad Governor's office said that adventurism had prompted three youths to detonate a bomb in the city's Ostandari Square.

Amirollah Shamaghdari said that the three youths had chosen the bombing site solely because they were familiar with the area, adding, "The individual who lost his life in the bombing had purchased the explosives from a local supply store."

Shamaghdari added that the friends of the bomber had tried to persuade him against such a dangerous act but were unsuccessful given the bomber's characteristics and family problems.

Shamaghdari urged youngsters and youth to not play with explosives in the lead up to and on the last Wednesday of the year dubbed "Fireworks Wednesday."

He pointed to the vigilance of Khorasan Razavi Province security and civil forces, saying, "Our province enjoys great complete security and stability, and any acts aimed at provocation or disrupting social order will be harshly dealt with."

Ahmadinejad questions finishing work for the day

Khabar Online | Jan. 18, 2010

The IRGC daily claimed that a number of Ahmadinejad ministers and aides have complained to the Iranian president about their heavy workload.

According to Jahan, the Iranian cabinet members complained about their heavy workload and extensive provincial tours as well as the constant criticism directed at them.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in response pointed to the government's chief responsibility of serving the nation and said, "We must all make every effort to serve the people regardless of the extensive criticism [directed at us] because fatigue and disappointment have no meaning in the present circumstances."

He jokingly added, "A while back I needed to speak to one of the ministers at 10 p.m. when I learned he had already gone home for the day. I called him and told him that in this government going home at 10 p.m. has no meaning."

The Iranian president asked his staff to continue working with energy.

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1 Comment

To: Iranian academics fear more killings
Because of his profession he may be the one of the most appropriate to put the blame on others.
But the murderers are aware of the hidden signal to other opponents.

Lews / January 20, 2010 8:26 PM