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Nuke Talks a Go for November; US, Iran Wrangle over Afghan Cash Bags

30 Oct 2010 02:02No Comments

Press Roundup provides selected excerpts of news and opinion pieces from the Iranian and international media. Click on the link to the story to read it in full. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. The inclusion of various opinions in no way implies their endorsement by Tehran Bureau. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow other news items through our Twitter feed.

THE LEAD

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Iran Agrees to Nuclear Talks as Sanctions Bite

Telegraph | Oct 29

Baroness Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, who is envoy of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany will meet with Saeed Jalili, Iran's nuclear negotiator, after November 10.

She said: "This is a very significant move and we're now in touch with Iran to see whether we can agree the time and place as quickly as possible." Baroness Ashton secured the talks -- the first in more than a year -- by dropping an insistence that the discussions focus only on Iran's uranium enrichment programme to concede that its wider interests could be included.

Iran has accumulated a 4,000lb stockpile of low enriched uranium and has further refined 66lb to a threshold level that would enable its scientists to produce enough weapons grade material for a bomb within a year.

The Iranian decision to accept the offer of talks was delivered just two days after the EU set out details of a tough new sanction regime on banking, energy and shipping industries. The fourth UN sanctions resolution on the uranium enrichment programme has triggered worldwide moves to curtail Iranian trade and investment.

Diplomats believe the sanctions are already causing significant damage to the regime's control over the economy. Restrictions on US dollar sales to Iran triggered a run on the Iranian rial that caused its first significant fall in more than a decade. The crisis was triggered in Dubai, which banned currency deals with Iranians, but the clampdown has affected Iranian representatives in Europe and Asia.

"The supply of dollars suddenly dried up, which caused blind panic," a western diplomat said. "Iran won't ever come to the table and more or less surrender but this has hurt the middle class who want to acquire dollars to travel, trade and as a hedge against inflation."

Iran Agrees to Talks with World Powers

Washington Post | Oct 29

The talks, which would include senior diplomats from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, would be the first in more than a year and the first since world powers imposed new sanctions, which have started to weigh on the Iranian economy. A diplomat involved in the discussions said it was significant that Iran responded just days after the European Union published sweeping new regulations that, among other steps, bar investments in Iran's oil and gas industry.

The last round of talks, in October 2009, were held in Geneva, and Iran has indicated that it would like to return to the Swiss city for this round as well. While the last meeting lasted just one day, Ashton has pushed for three days in order to delve more deeply into the issues dividing the two sides. She has also proposed the meeting start with an informal dinner in order foster a more cooperative atmosphere in the working meetings.

The diplomat involved in the talks said that Iranian diplomats in recent weeks have quizzed Turkish, Chinese and Russian diplomats about Ashton, who is new in her post, and have apparently concluded that they can do business with her. She replaced long-time diplomat Javier Solana last year, and this would be her first meeting with Iran.

World powers have offered Iran a package of incentives if it halts its enrichment of uranium, but Tehran has steadfastly refused to discuss its nuclear program. Last year's talks largely centered on a U.S.-French-Russian proposal to assist Iran with refueling an aging reactor used for medical purposes. The accord was intended to build confidence -- it would have resulted in a large stash of Iran's enriched uranium leaving the country -- but it was ultimately rejected by Iran's leaders.

With Iran having added to its stockpile of low-enriched uranium since then, and also enriching uranium at an even higher level, the United States and its allies have been crafting a new proposal that would require the Islamic Republic to give up even more enriched uranium in order to receive assistance. Iran, in its official statements, has given no indication such a deal would be acceptable -- and has insisted that its focus in the talks would be on broader international issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than its nuclear program.

Petraeus: Iran's Kabul Payments 'Disingenuous'

VOA | Oct 29

The top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says Iran's cash payments to the Afghan government are "disingenuous" or misleading, because Tehran also is actively supporting the Taliban.

U.S. General David Petraeus told VOA's Persian News Network Friday that Iran gives the Afghan government financial support, but also undermines the Kabul government by aiding the insurgents responsible for the country's security problems.

Petraeus said Iran directly supports Taliban militants with training and equipment, and also offers some direction to the insurgents fighting to overthrow Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's government.

The American general called Iran's position on Afghanistan "conflicted." Despite the assistance Tehran sends to the Taliban, Petraeus said, "in some respects" Iran also wants Afghanistan to gain the ability to govern itself and take charge of its own security.

General Petraeus said neither Iran nor the United States wants Afghanistan to revert to conditions prior to 2001, when the country was under Taliban control and "a sanctuary for transnational extremists" such as al-Qaida.

On Tuesday Iran confirmed it has sent money to the Afghan government for years, saying the funds are intended to aid Afghanistan's reconstruction.

President Karzai said Monday that his office received "bags of money" from Iran, and he described those payments as no different from money his government receives from the United States and other countries.

'U.S. Seeking to Damage Tehran Ties with Neighbors'

Mehr | Oct 27

Senior parliamentarian Allaeddin Boroujerdi said on Wednesday the U.S. claim on Iran-Afghanistan financial link seeks to jeopardize Iran's relations with neighboring states.

In the past, similar reports were made about Iran and Turkey, and this time about Afghanistan but the Afghan president reacted in an appropriate way, Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told reporters.

On Monday, President Hamid Karzai dismissed the way the story was covered by the NYT, saying the money is given "to help the presidential office and to help dispense assistance in various ways to the employees here and to people outside (the presidential office)," Karzai said, adding that he had instructed Daudzai to accept the money.

Boroujerdi said Iran plays a constructive role in Afghanistan, adding the more Iran pursues this policy, the better it can reduce the number of people who illegally immigrate to Iran.

At present there are over one million illegal Afghan immigrants in the country, he explained.

Boroujerdi also said a major part of Iran's financial assistance to Afghanistan is in the form of credit for Iranian companies, which run various projects there.

OTHER NEWS

Iranian Authorities Forecast Economic Difficulties

Radio Zamaneh | Oct 28

[The] head of Iran's Basij paramilitary, Commander Mohammdreza Naghdi, says restructuring of government subsidies is like "major surgery" in the economy which is bound to entail "great pains."

Mehr news agency reports that Commander Naghdi added that the proper implementation of the legislation would however result in economic development of the country. He thus urged the public to "forego their immediate personal interests for the sake of national interests."

He called on people not to use this opportunity to create discontent or attack national foundations in order to "fill their own pockets with money."

Commander Naghdi went on to say: "Basij compliments all ministries and wherever there is need they will enter the scene." He announced Basij forces are prepared to lend their assistance to the government in "its great economic endeavour."

Head of Iranian Basij forces urged those who may be inflicted with economic difficulties due to the implementation of the new legislation regarding subsidies, to show "patience and tolerance" so that eventually they will also be able "to taste its sweet fruits."

He maintained that Basij forces are on the look out for any interference with this legislation all across the country in order to inform the government and take appropriate actions against them.

The cutting of government subsidies, which have kept the price of energy and food staples down in Iran for decades, are to take effect soon in Iran and the government is concerned that the possible economic difficulties resulting from it can translate into general social discontent disturbing the political balance of the country.

MP Says Subsidy Reform Plan Is Not Transparent

Mehr | Oct 27

MP Qolamreza Mesbahi-Moqaddam of the Majlis Economic Committee has criticized the administration for lack of transparency about the details of the subsidy reform plan.

"We advise the administration to clarify ambiguities before taking any step. The administration can't push the plan ahead while there are ambiguities about the way the plan is to be implemented," Mesbahi-Moqaddam told the Mehr News Agency on Wednesday.

If people's ambiguities about the plan are not resolved, it is possible that they don't cooperate with the administration resulting in the failure of the plan, he said.

He went on to say that the administration's procedures for liberalizing the prices of fuels and paying cash subsidies to people are not transparent.

Mesbahi-Moqaddam also announced that MPs sitting the Majlis special committee for the subsidy reform plan will meet with administration officials next week to discuss and resolve the vague points of the plan.

Subsidy reform plan envisages the elimination of the subsidies on fuel, energy, and certain goods over the course of five years. The administration has decided to pay cash subsidies for an undecided period of time to compensate low-income families for the inflationary repercussions of the plan.

Many experts and officials have criticized the administration for not fully informing people about the details of the plan and a delay in enforcing the plan.

Human Rights Activist Parisa Kakaei Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

RAHANA | Oct 29

The 26th branch of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Pirabbasi has sentenced Parisa Kakaei to 6 years in prison.

She has been sentenced to 5 years in prison for the charge of participating in gatherings and conspiracy to disturb national security and 1 year of imprisonment for anti-regime propaganda.

According to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, her trial was held on October 18th.

Political Activist Mansour Faraji Sentenced to 3 Years of Suspended Imprisonment and 30 Lashes

RAHANA | Oct 29

The 36th branch of the Revolutionary Court has sentenced political activist Mansour Faraji to 3 years of suspended imprisonment, 30 lashes and a $300 fine.

Mansour Faraji had been arrested on September 9, 2007 and had been released on a $100,000 bail after 80 days of detention.

According to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, the political activists of the Iran Democratic Party was sentenced to 2 years of suspended imprisonment for acting against national security and one year of suspended imprisonment served in 5 years and a fine for anti-regime propaganda through publishing statements, founding Iran Democratic Party and membership in the party. He was also sentenced to 30 lashes and fined $300 for leaving the country illegally, using forged documents and owning satellite equipment.

Previously, the 13th branch of the Revolutionary Court had sentenced him to one year in prison and a fine of $300.

Ashura Detainee Navid Kamran Returned to Evin Prison

RAHANA | Oct 29

After the Appeals Court upheld the lower court's verdict for Ashura detainee Navid Kamran which sentenced him to 33 months in prison and 75 lashes, he began serving his sentence in the Evin Prison on Wednesday, October 27th.

According to JARS, Judge Pirabbas, the presiding judge of the 26th branch of the Revolutionary Court, had issued the verdict. Kamran was informed of the court's decision after being summoned to the Shahid Moghaddas Prosecutor's Office a few days ago.

He was charged with conspiracy and participating in gatherings in order to commit crimes against national security, and disturbing the public order. During last year's presidential elections, Kamran was an activist for the website of "Association of Mousavi Supporters." The group's name was later changed to the "Association of Green Movement Supporters."

Iran Frees Reformist Journalist on Sick Leave: Report

AFP | Oct 28

A reformist Iranian journalist close to opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi on Thursday was allowed to leave prison on sick leave, an opposition website reported.

"Hengameh Shahidi ... was temporarily released from Evin prison (in Tehran) to seek treatment," said Kaleme.com, the mouthpiece of main opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

There was no indication of how long she would be allowed to stay out of prison.

In May, Iranian media reported that Shahidi was given a hefty jail term by the Islamic republic's hardline judiciary following her arrest in the wake of a disputed presidential election in June 2009.

Shahidi was handed six years for propaganda against the regime, taking part in illegal gatherings and acting against national security.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Keep the Iran War Talk Quiet

Mark Lynch (Foreign Policy) | Oct 28

[The November talks to which Iran and the P5+1 have agreed] will hopefully become the basis for an ongoing diplomatic process, where a range of issues can be explored, alternative arrangements proposed, and confidence built. But it's a very bad sign that, according to the New York Times, the lack of progress in talks thus far has "prompted a discussion inside the White House about whether it would be helpful, or counterproductive, to have him [President Barack Obama] talk more openly about military options." That fits with Dennis Ross's remarks to AIPAC a few days ago: "But should Iran continue its defiance, despite its growing isolation and the damage to its economy, its leaders should listen carefully to President Obama who has said many times, "we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." Here's an easy answer: they would be highly counterproductive, and downright dangerous. So let's move on from that discussion, shall we?

The idea of putting war talk on the table is presumably to increase the pressure on Iran to come to the table and make a deal. It won't likely accomplish that. Iran will quite reasonably refuse to bargain under the threat of military force, and will view U.S. offers under such conditions as manifestly insincere. It probably will not view the military threat as credible, given the realities of U.S. challenges and limitations. The war talk would swamp all other issues, make confidence building virtually impossible, and even further harden the divisions. What's more, war talk might very well undermine the international consensus on sanctions, the one accomplishment of which the administration boasts, since few of the countries which came on board for sanctions in defense of nonproliferation would have any stomach for another U.S. preventive war in the Middle East.

That's not the worst of it, though. The greatest danger of introducing open war talk by the administration is that it would represent the next step in the "ratcheting" -- which I've been warning of for months -- and pave the way either to a 1990's Iraq scenario or to an actual war. Once the military option is on the table, it never goes away. The only way to signal "toughness" in future encounters will be to somehow escalate beyond military threats -- i.e. to commit action, such as airstrikes or cruise missiles. And those would, by the consensus of virtually every serious analyst, be a catastrophe. If the United States isn't prepared to follow through on the threat -- and it really, really shouldn't be -- then it shouldn't make the threat. That would just either undermine credibility, or else give a hook for hawks to demand that actions live up to rhetoric. Dangerous either way.

U.S. Midterm Elections, Obama and Iran

George Friedman (STRATFOR) | Oct 26

We are a week away from the 2010 U.S. midterm elections. The outcome is already locked in. Whether the Republicans take the House or the Senate is close to immaterial. It is almost certain that the dynamics of American domestic politics will change.

Obama now has two options in terms of domestic strategy. The first is to continue to press his agenda, knowing that it will be voted down. If the domestic situation improves, he takes credit for it. If it doesn't, he runs against Republican partisanship. The second option is to abandon his agenda, cooperate with the Republicans and re-establish his image as a centrist. Both have political advantages and disadvantages and present an important strategic decision for Obama to make.

Obama also has a third option, which is to shift his focus from domestic policy to foreign policy. [...] Historically, when the president has been weak domestically, one option he has had is to appear powerful by focusing on foreign policy.

If Obama were to use foreign policy to enhance his political standing through decisive action, and achieve some positive results in relations with foreign governments, the one place he could do it would be Iran. The issue is what he might have to do and what the risks would be. Nothing could, after all, hurt him more than an aggressive stance against Iran that failed to achieve its goals or turned into a military disaster for the United States.

So far, Obama's policy toward Iran has been to incrementally increase sanctions by building a weak coalition and allow the sanctions to create shifts in Iran's domestic political situation. The idea is to weaken President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and strengthen his enemies, who are assumed to be more moderate and less inclined to pursue nuclear weapons. Obama has avoided overt military action against Iran, so a confrontation with Iran would require a deliberate shift in the U.S. stance, which would require a justification.

The most obvious justification would be to claim that Iran is about to construct a nuclear device. Whether or not this is true would be immaterial. First, no one would be in a position to challenge the claim, and, second, Obama's credibility in making the assertion would be much greater than George W. Bush's, given that Obama does not have the 2003 weapons-of-mass-destruction debacle to deal with and has the advantage of not having made such a claim before. Coming from Obama, the claim would confirm the views of the Republicans, while the Democrats would be hard-pressed to challenge him. In the face of this assertion, Obama would be forced to take action. He could appear reluctant to his base, decisive to the rest. The Republicans could not easily attack him. Nor would the claim be a lie. Defining what it means to almost possess nuclear weapons is nearly a metaphysical discussion. It requires merely a shift in definitions and assumptions. This is a cynical scenario, but it can be aligned with reasonable concerns.

Washington's Dubious Offer of Negotiations with Iran

Ted Galen Carpenter (National Interest) | Oct 28

The Obama administration supposedly wants to use diplomacy to resolve the long-running crisis over Iran's nuclear program. But Washington's apparent negotiating strategy raises serious questions about the sincerity of that position.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the United States and its European allies are prepared to offer a new deal to Tehran. However, that proposal includes conditions that are tougher than those contained in the version that the Ayatollah Ali Kamanei rejected last year.

That is a curious negotiating strategy if the goal is truly to strike a deal on the nuclear issue.

There are two possible explanations for this puzzling stance. One is that U.S. and European Union officials are not sincere about wanting a negotiated settlement and are instead perfectly willing to see tensions escalate. The second possibility is that Western policymakers are extremely confident that the latest round of multilateral economic sanctions is beginning to bite, and that the Iranian regime will, sooner or later, have to capitulate. According to that logic, toughening the provisions of the new offer is a way of conveying to the clerical regime that the longer it waits, the worse will be the deal it eventually gets.

If the former explanation is true, the conduct of Washington and its allies is both reprehensible and dangerous. At a minimum, it risks the breakdown of diplomacy and increases the possibility of a military showdown--with all the negative consequences that would imply for the entire region.

If the latter explanation is true, Western negotiators may be overestimating -- perhaps wildly overestimating -- the impact of the latest round of sanctions. The new penalties are clearly causing more problems for Iran than previous rounds, but that is a rather low bar to clear. Moreover, the history of economic sanctions shows that, while they are capable of causing inconvenience to the target country, they have a poor record of getting regimes to abandon high-priority policies. And for Iran, the nuclear program is a very high-priority policy.

Is the U.S. Bullying Europe Into Cutting Ties with Iran?

Vivienne Walt (Time) | Oct 28

Tougher U.S. and European sanctions against Iran might be hitting its economy, with fears of looming inflation and cuts in food and gas subsidies. But that doesn't mean the Islamic Republic is out of friends; far from it. Even the U.S.'s close allies in Europe have stopped short of cutting their relations with Iran, allowing it to continue its trade in oil and gas. And on Iran's other flank, it is cementing alliances with Asian countries, which are eager to build links with one of the world's biggest oil producers and are angling to snap up contracts abandoned by departing Western companies. "The Chinese and especially the Malaysians have been buying up Iran's oil assets recently, and reselling a lot of Iranian oil," says Philippe Vasset, editor of the Paris-based newsletter Intelligence Online, which monitors energy deals. "Many of the tough sanctions against Iran are in fact U.S. sanctions."

The latest sanctions went into effect Wednesday, when the E.U. published 77 pages of new measures, including a ban against European energy companies making new investments in Iran's mammoth oil and gas industries. Iran has the world's third-largest oil reserves and owns half of the world's biggest natural-gas field, South Pars in the Persian Gulf. The E.U. sanctions follow a fourth round of U.N. sanctions in June and a fresh round of U.S. sanctions, introduced in July, all aimed at coaxing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into negotiations over his nuclear-enrichment program, which Western countries say is to develop nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad has refused, insisting that the program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The new E.U. sanctions are in some ways a big change for Europe: French, Italian, Norwegian and Spanish energy companies all trade with Iran and have long held production contracts with the country. Those have been steadily reduced over the past few years, however, as European companies ready themselves for tougher action against Iran and weigh their ties with the country against their ties with the U.S. A spokesman for E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the new E.U. sanctions "could lead to...closure" of BP's Rhum gas field in Scotland's North Sea, a joint project between BP and Iranian Oil Company U.K. Ltd., a subsidiary of an Iranian state-run energy firm. BP has said it will study the sanctions before deciding what to do.

Yet even with the toughest-ever E.U. sanctions now in force, Europe maintains an economic relationship with Iran. Unlike U.S. companies, European firms are free to buy Iranian crude oil and natural gas, and to sell refined petroleum products to Iran. And the E.U. this week urged financial institutions to lend their support to that legitimate trade. Europe imports about 1.2 million barrels of Iranian crude a day -- double the amount it imported in 2008, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris. In addition, some E.U. partnerships with Iran could be exempted from the sanctions by E.U. officials, if they consider them crucial to Europe's energy needs. One example could be the Iranian gas from the Caspian Sea which will feed into the huge new Nabucco pipeline across Europe, a project aimed at reducing the Continent's dependence on Russian gas.

Iran May Regret Promoting WikiLeaks Now They Have Been Implicated

Meir Javedanfar (Guardian) | Oct 28

The previous editions of WikiLeaks were a gift for Iran. Documents and videos, such as the one showing the killing of journalists in Iraq were useful evidence for Iran's campaign to discredit US policies and activities in the Middle East.

So, when the news broke out that a new set of revelations had been released by WikiLeaks, Iranian press outlets such as PressTV covered its launch. Iran was hoping to cash in on promises from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that the new revelations would "take the lid off the scale of human sufferings and damages inflicted upon the Iraqi people in the nine-year-old conflict". The hope was that such new revelations would be yet another public relations gift for Iran, and initially the report the did not disappoint. It exposed many cases and evidence of human rights abuses in Iraq.

However, soon afterwards Iranian politicians decided to change course. Officials such as Javad Larijani, the secretary general of the high council for human rights at the judiciary (and brother of Majles speaker Ali Larijani and judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani), played down the importance of the report. The reason was that it also revealed evidence regarding Iranian interference in Iraq. Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, also joined the fray by describing the new release as "suspicious".

In a strange twist of fate, the new report produced a common area of concern for both Iran and the US. Both governments have something to lose from it, and both are trying to contain the damage.

Iran's concerns are understandable. There are serious allegations that could damage its image abroad, especially with its allies in Iraq and in the Shia world. One such revelation is the report about Iran supplying new forms of suicide vests for al-Qaida.

How to Influence Friends, Bribe Neighbours and Miff the U.S.

Patrick Martin (Globe and Mail) | Oct 29

That's why the man who briefs Afghan President Hamid Karzai every morning receives bags of cash from Iran on a regular basis.

Does it matter that Mr. Karzai's Taliban enemies also receive Iranian bags of cash?

Not to Iran, that's how it operates.

"The Iranians are smart enough to try to use their regional position in negotiations with the Americans," said Adnan Abu Odeh, a former political adviser to Jordan's King Hussein and former Jordanian ambassador to the United Nations. "They're in a position to bargain with the Americans, and they're trying to increase their bargaining power."

That's also why Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Muqtada al-Sadr, the militant Shia leader Mr. al-Maliki sought to destroy, both receive funding and arms from Iran, and why both men are expected to share power in any forthcoming Iraqi government.

"Iran wants to be the regional hegemon, and doesn't want to leave it to some outside power like the U.S.," says Nader Hashemi, a professor of Islamic politics at the University of Denver. "It's doing everything in its power to make that happen."

While many in the West may see an Iran wounded from the bite of international sanctions and frustrated in its dream of achieving nuclear power, this is exactly the time that Iran is most dangerous.

"The existential reality of Iran cannot be ignored," said Dr. Hashemi. "It has interests in the region and it intends to act on them."

China and Iran Vie for the Subcontinent

Catriona Luke (New Statesman) | Oct 28

It emerged this week that Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, has been accepting "bags of money" from Iran, reportedly as transparent aid to help cover palace expenses. Although Iranian money and weapons for use against Nato forces have been pouring for many years into Herat, in western Afghanistan, the nonchalance of President Karzai's response to Iranian cash in Kabul raised eyebrows in the media.

Perhaps they weren't looking far enough afield. The worry is that Iran has similar designs on Pakistan and that the methods will be the same -- drip money into the Pakistani Taliban in a long-term effort to destabilise the state. Even if the tactic doesn't work -- and there are strong arguments that it will not -- it may make things more complicated.

For one thing, it is not known the extent to which Iranian money is swishing around in Pakistan, though much of it will be linked to drugs. From an Iranian point of view, too, their neighbour to the east may look vulnerable.

DOCUMENTS & DECLARATIONS

Cracking Down Remorselessly, Tehran Shows Its True Face

Reporters without Borders | Oct 28

Developments in the past two weeks confirm that the Iranian government is continuing its relentless crackdown on the media. A journalist was arrested for the second time in a year and courts imposed or upheld jail sentences on two women journalists whose journalist husbands are already in prison.

Two of these developments took place on 22 October, just two days after Reporters Without Borders released its annual press freedom index, in which Iran was ranked 175th out of 178 countries.
One was a raid by intelligence ministry officials on the home of Mohammad Reza Moghisseh, the editor of Biste Saleha and a contributor to various other pro-reform media, who was taken away to an unknown location.

A member of a committee that has been monitoring arrests and human rights violations since the disputed June 2009 presidential election, Moghisseh was previously arrested on 14 October 2009 and spent 150 days in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin prison. Sentenced to six years in prison by a Tehran revolutionary court, he was released on bail on 1 March pending the outcome of his appeal.

The other development on 22 October was a Tehran appeal court decision to uphold the sentence of one year in prison followed by a 30-year ban on working as a journalist which a Tehran revolutionary court imposed earlier this year on blogger and reporter Jila Bani Yaghoob. She had been notified of the revolutionary court's sentence on 8 June.

Yaghoob and her husband, Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee, were arrested on 20 June 2009 along with around 20 other journalists during the demonstrations that followed the presidential election held eight days earlier. She was released on 24 August 2009 but her husband remained in detention and was given a five-year jail sentence.

Yaghoob's We Are Journalists blog was a winner in the "Reporters Without Borders Freedom of Expression" category in this year's international "Best of the Blogs" competition that Deutsche Welle organized in Berlin from 13 to 15 April.

The other woman journalist, Mahssa Amrabadi, was sentenced to a year in prison by a Tehran revolutionary court on 14 October. Arrested on 14 June 2009, two days after the presidential election, she was released on 22 August 2009 on bail of 200 million toman (165,000 euros).

Her journalist husband, Masoud Bastani of the daily Farhikhteghan, is in Rajaishahr prison. Arrested on 4 July 2009, he was tried along many other journalists in the Stalinist-style mass trials that the government began organizing in Tehran in August 2009. A revolutionary court sentenced him to six years in prison on 1 November 2009.

Journalist Hider Karimi of Sina, a weekly that has been closed since December 2009, was meanwhile released on 21 October on bail of 220 million toman (151,000 euros) after four months in prison. He was arrested on 9 June when intelligence ministry officials in plain clothes raided his home in the northwestern city of Khoy.

39 Are Detained in October with Political Allegations

RAHANA | Oct 27

Amongst these are the names of 14 political activists, 6 Kurdish citizens activists, 4 women and 3 students.

In the last month, 39 individuals have been detained with political charges, amongst them are four women who were arrested during the raid by the Security Forces on the house of one of the Grieving Mothers.

According to RAHANA, there are also nine leaders of the Freedom Movement (Nehzat Azadi) who were arrested in a funeral in Esfehan.

Two German citizens, reporters of a popular weekly German news magazine, Bild Am Sonntag, who were trying to hold an interview with the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the prisoner sentenced to stoning, were also detained.

To download a pdf list of the detainees go to http://www.rahana.org/wp-content/uploads/1389/1389-7-bazdasht.pdf.

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