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22 Jan 2010 19:531 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.

Engineer's arrest exposes U.S. pursuit of Iranians

WaPo | Jan. 22, 2010

The case of Majid Kakavand, accused of purchasing American electronics online and routing it to Iran via Malaysia, has shed light on increasing U.S. attempts to crack down on people outside American borders suspected of illegally buying U.S. supplies for Iran military programs.

The case is also pushing the justice system in France, which has grown increasingly tough on Iran's nuclear ambitions but also has trade and oil interests in the country, toward a stand that could have deep diplomatic and economic repercussions.

Kakavand's future could be decided at a Feb. 17 Paris hearing on whether to extradite him to the United States.

Iran's government spoke out about the case for the first time this week, accusing France of linking Kakavand's fate to that of a young French academic on trial in Iran. It says Kakavand is innocent and suggests he is being used as a bargaining chip in the diplomatic tug-of-war over 24-year-old Clotilde Reiss.

NYC consultant denied bail in Iran trade case

Wapo | Jan. 21, 2010

A management consultant charged with violating the Iran Trade Embargo was denied bail Thursday despite his claims that he would not be welcome in Iran.

U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan ordered Mahmoud Reza Banki held until his March 22 trial on charges that he broke money transfer laws when he and relatives in Iran transferred money to each other.

Banki, 33, of Manhattan, has been held without bail since he was arrested earlier this month. He is accused of operating an unlicensed money transfer business, a charge that federal sentencing guidelines suggest would carry a prison term of at least five years after a conviction.

Yale Surprised by Inclusion on Iran's Blacklist

US News | Jan. 21, 2010

Yale was taken aback after seeing its name on a blacklist released by an Iranian intelligence agency. The blacklist includes 60 groups that are allegedly part of an anti-Iran conspiracy backed by Britain, Israel, and the United States.

Experts say the whole thing is product of Iranian paranoia, the Yale Daily News reports, and school officials are shocked at their institution's inclusion. Yale President Richard Levin says he has no clue why Yale is on the list. Officials say they hope it doesn't hurt Iranian students' chances of matriculating to Yale -- although it's already difficult to get a visa to the United States from Iran, the report says.

"We don't have any official explanation," University Secretary and Vice President Linda Lorimer tells the Daily News, "since obviously the Iranian authorities are not indicating the basis for the inclusion of certain organizations and not others."

Sarvari: We will reveal our Mortazavi files in court

Khabar Online | Jan. 22, 2010

The head of the Majlis truth-finding committee said the report on post-election incidents was based on solid evidence.

"The special commission has turned its document sand evidence over to the court," said
Parviz Sarvai.

Sarvari told Fars News Agency that the truth-finding committee relied on credible evidence in preparing its report. "There is no need for Majlis to review this case again," he was quoted as saying.

"We propose that if [the notorious former prosecutor] Mortazavi has something to say or evidence to offer, he should come forth and explain after the court convenes to hear this case," said Sarvari. "The special commission will also submit its documents and evidence in court."

The MP also addressed remarks made by Mortazavi, dismissing the Majlis report. "Such remarks in no way change the truth; the special commission did not base its findings on political analysis but on documents and evidence," he said.

Iran official news agency gets new head

IRNA | IRNA (Farsi) | Jan. 22, 2010

The Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance said that Ali-Akbar Javanfekr will be the new head of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

"Next Sunday, Ali-Akbar Javanfekr's decree will be issued, and on Tuesday the inaugural ceremony will be held," Ershad Minister Mohammad Hosseini told reporters on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony of the nationwide Ashuraian mourning congregation.

Javanfekr, who is now the president's press adviser, joined IRNA in 1980 and served in various capacities such as reporter, deputy chief editor, chief editor, senior newsroom chief editor, and managing director's adviser.

In 1983, Javanfekr became IRNA Bureau Chief in Spain and was expelled from the country in 1988 for defending the late Imam Khomeini's historical verdict against British writer Salman Rushdie.

In 1989, Javanfekr was assigned as head of the press bureau of the Supreme Leader's office. He maintained that post until 2000 while serving at IRNA.

Javanfekr re-started his former mission as IRNA Bureau Chief in Spain in 2000 and returned home in 2003 when his mission was completed.

Upon return, he was appointed as press adviser of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was mayor of Tehran in 2003.

Javanfekr is still President Ahmadinejad's press adviser.

Mohammad Jafar Behdad was the previous head of IRNA.

Ershad: warnings good, keep media in check

Gooya | Jan. 22, 2010

The Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini said the Media Supervision Committee's warnings to newspapers is in their best interest.

In response to a question about the concerns raised about the repeated weekly meetings of the Media Supervision Committee, Hosseini told an ISNA reporter, "The Media Supervision Committee's occasional warnings to them [newspapers] is in their best interest, because the wrongful approaches that sometimes exist are rectified and therefore there is no need for tougher action such as banning or revoking the publication permit of a daily."

"The Media Deputy constantly meets with journalists and brainstorming sessions are held in newspapers and news agencies and therefore there is no need for concern. Of course there are some red lines that must not be crossed."

"Ershad is not the sole decision maker in the Media Supervision Committee as it is only one of the seven members of the body."

"Ershad's policy is not one of limiting the media," he concluded.

Iran students boycott exams to protest disputed election

BBC | Jan. 22, 2010

Students in Iran have been boycotting end-of-term exams as they continue to show their opposition to the outcome of last year's disputed presidential election.

The move comes a month after thousands of students held street demonstrations to protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election last June.

The examinations boycott began at Amir Kabir University, a well respected institution with a well organized pro-reform student union.

A newsletter published by the students there said large numbers had not turned up for more than 40 exams in solidarity with 12 classmates who were imprisoned during previous demonstrations.

The letter also said the students were determined to carry on with their boycott as a peaceful means of protest.

One student, who asked not to be named, told the BBC that "boycotting the exams started from the school of electrical engineering and then spread to other schools and departments of the university".

The university management subsequently announced that students who do not take part in the exams will have a zero grade reflected in the end of year results.

Russia 'regrets Iran's rejection of nuclear deal'

AFP | Jan. 22, 2010

Russia regrets that Iran has apparently rejected a UN-brokered nuclear fuel exchange deal to ease the standoff over its atomic program, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

"We regret that Iran -- as far as we can see -- does not consider it possible to agree to the formula that it was offered," Lavrov told a news conference.

Under the plan, Iran would hand over most of its stocks of low-enriched uranium in return for the supply by France and Russia of nuclear fuel enriched to the higher level required for a Tehran research reactor.

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent UN Security Council member, is one of the few major powers to have close relations with Iran.

Russian foreign minister says idea to punish Iran not a 'sober' approach

Interfax | Jan. 22, 2010

"The intention to punish Tehran is not a correct way to settle the Iranian nuclear problem," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

"If we pursue the logic of punishing Iran or if we act like the offended parties -- as if to say, how can it be that we have offered them our proposals, but they do not want to discuss them, then it would probably not be a very sober approach," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow on Friday.

He said that "a sober approach must above all be based on the nuclear superpowers taking responsibility for maintaining the regime of non-proliferation and eliminating any risks."

"This way, the ongoing work of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] in Iran plays a key role," Lavrov added. "We must not take steps which could put the IAEA's future work in this country at risk," he said.

Lavrov said the 5+1 intermediaries for settling the Iranian nuclear problem (Russia, USA, China, France, the UK and German Interfax), the UN Security Council and any other organizations must defer to the IAEA's opinion.

"It is the experts of this organization that are the most experienced ones and have the most knowledge on this subject," he said. "It is the experts of this unbiased international organization, in our view, that have the deciding vote in assessing the scale of various risks," Lavrov added.

Tehran considers London's Afghan summit

UPI | Jan. 21, 2010

Tehran announced plans to send a delegation to the London conference on Afghanistan if the international community considers its positions, officials said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will join U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in co-hosting representatives from the international community for a conference on Afghanistan scheduled for Jan. 28.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Thursday that Tehran would take part in the conference if its positions were considered by other foreign dignitaries, Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV reports.

"If Iran's considerations on Afghanistan are completely taken into account in the final statement of the London conference, we will consider taking part in the gathering," he said.

Iranian MPs seek to reduce UK political ties to charge d'affaires

ILNA | Jan. 22, 2010

A member of the Majlis Presidium has commented on a double-urgency bill to cut all ties with the British government. "The bill has been sent to the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Majlis and the MPs are seeking to reduce Tehran-London ties to charge d'affaires level," ILNA quoted Hossein Sobhaninia as saying.

The foreign minister and the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council were to hold a join meeting with the members of the Majlis committee to discuss the methods of reducing Iran-Britain ties.

"Once the bill is studied at an expert level, the Majlis will make a definite decision with regards to Tehran-London future ties," he said.

"The double-urgency bill which was presented to the Majlis regarding cutting all political, economic and cultural ties with the UK has changed to a bill for reducing ties with the country. The change was made based on shared views between the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee and the diplomacy machine of the country," he added.

The Presidium member said, "In view of the mischief of the British government in the post-election incidents in Iran, it is necessary to revise the ties between the two countries."

Adding, "The diplomacy machine of the country has expressed its positive views towards reducing ties between the two countries. With the backing of the nation, who is unhappy with the British interference, we seek to reduce our ties with the British government."

Sobhaninia said, "Iran and Britain improved their level of ties from charge d'affaires to ambassador a few years ago, but it seems that London's interference in Iran's domestic affairs increased with the improvement of bilateral ties."

Rezaei-Velayati no show at live debate

Asr Iran | Jan. 21, 2010

Despite repeated announcements by IRIB 3 that the secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei and the Leader's aide on international Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati would battle it out in a live Thursday night debate, the show played host to two other guests.

Rouhollah Hosseinian and Alaeddin Boroujerdi replaced the originally-announced guests of the show.

Khatami visits activists freed from prison

Gooya | Jan. 22, 2010

Former Iranian president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami met with a group of activists arrested after the June election.

According to Jaras, he met with Mohsen Safayi-Farahani, a member of the Islamic Participation Front, Morteza Haji, CEO of the Baran Institute. Khatami also visited the family of Seyyed Alireza Beheshti.

On Thursday, Khatami met with Mohammad Kianoushrad who was also recently freed from jail.

Video clip: Interview with Dr. Asef Bayat

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1 Comment

Shame on arrogant French - don't they know only Iran gets to take foreigners hostage an hold them as bargaining chips, and if any Western nation does anything to hurt Mahmoud's feelings and make him cry, he'll take his oil and leave the playground, sticking his tongue out as he goes!

Zed / January 23, 2010 6:17 AM