The WikiLeaks Flood; Iran Agrees to Talks in Geneva Next Week
30 Nov 2010 18:00
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.
WikiLeaks Documents Focus on Health of Leaders in Iran, North Korea
CNN | Nov 30
The latest group of documents released by WikiLeaks included a report from an un-named informant that Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, has terminal cancer and is "expected to die in months."
The information about Khamenei's health comes from a partially redacted U.S. diplomatic cable from August 2009, in which an un-named businessman reports a discussion that one of his contacts had with former Iranian President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, who told him that Khamenei has terminal leukemia.
Khamenei was elected Iran's Supreme Leader in July 1989, following the death of his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, and currently exercises control over the Iranian regime, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Other WikiLeaks documents released Monday suggest that Khamenei is reportedly willing to negotiate with the United States about Iran's nuclear goals, while Ahmadinejad is not.
Israel Names New Mossad Chief
Miami Herald | Nov 29
Israel on Monday named a veteran spy to head Mossad, a sign that the country's main espionage agency will continue to be active and aggressive and that Iran will remain at the top of the Israeli foreign policy agenda.
Tamir Pardo, [is] to succeed current director Meir Dagan [who] is said to have revolutionized the Mossad, put top priority on Iran and pressed for expanded operations overseas. His name appears in several of the cables divulged by the WikiLeaks website Sunday, in which he warns U.S. officials of Iran's nuclear weapons program.
Pardo earlier had served as Dagan's deputy, and his policy views are said to be closely linked to Dagan's.
Israel's efforts to stop Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program -- a topic that was widely covered in the U.S. cables -- will be among his top challenges.
A series of cables through 2008 and 2009 show U.S. diplomats and Israeli leaders pleaded with Russia not to sell Iran powerful S-300 anti-aircraft missiles capable of shooting down aircraft more than 120 miles away. In one February 2010 cable, a quid pro quo deal is suggested by which Israel would increase its arms deals with Georgia -- with which Russia fought a 2008 war -- unless Russia canceled the S-300 deal. Israel also offered to provide Russia with a number of weapons systems and unmanned aerial aircraft.
By September 2010, the diplomacy appeared to have succeeded. Russia announced the cancellation of an agreement to sell Iran the missiles.
Iran has accused Russia of scuttling the missile sale because of U.S. and Israeli pressure, and the cables now provide new evidence for its claim.
U.S. Fears Iran Has Long-Range Missile, But Russia Calls It a 'Myth'
CNN | Nov 29
The United States believes that North Korea is supplying Iran with long-range missiles, suggesting Iran has strike capabilities [that] are stronger than discussed in public, according to one of the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables released Sunday.
The issue was raised by American diplomats in a high level-meeting with their Russian counterparts in late 2009, but the Russians expressed doubt on the U.S. concern, according to the cable.
The document, dated February 24 and labeled "secret," details a meeting between the United States and Russia in which U.S. representatives expressed belief that North Korea supplied Iran with missiles.
The cable cites the U.S. belief that 19 BM-25 missiles were shipped to Iran in 2005. According to Jane's, a weapons research company, the missiles are reported to have a range somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 km (1,560 to 2,500 miles).
The Russians expressed doubts about the claim, citing lack of evidence, the cable states. But the Americans countered that some countries have offered direct evidence, and said they would try to bring further evidence to future meetings.
The United States believes that Iran wanted the missiles for the propulsion technology. But in an exchange described in the cable, U.S. and Russian officials debated whether North Korea even had the BM-25 missile at all, and the Russians asked whether the United States had any images of the missile.
US Memos: Iran Armed Hezbollah through Ambulances
AP | Nov 29
Iranian Red Crescent ambulances were used to smuggle weapons to Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group during its 2006 war with Israel, according to newly leaked U.S. diplomatic memos, which say the "IRC shipments of medical supplies served also to facilitate weapons shipments."
According to one of the documents, a person whose name was not published "had seen missiles in the planes destined for Lebanon when delivering medical supplies to the plane." The plane was allegedly "half full" prior to the arrival of any medical supplies, according to the memo.
Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war that killed 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis.
Paul Conneally, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the Geneva-based body took the allegations against one of its members very seriously.
"We will of course discuss it with the Iranian Red Crescent, but for now they remain allegations which are unsubstantiated to the best of our knowledge, and based on a source who is not named," Conneally told The Associated Press.
Conneally said the Iranian Red Crescent had been contacted by Britain's Guardian newspaper ahead of the publication of the memo. "They denied those allegations vociferously," he said.
WikiLeaks: Armenia Sent Iran Arms Used to Kill U.S. Troops
Washington Times | Nov 29
U.S. diplomats concluded in late 2008 that the government of Armenia had supplied Iran with rockets and machine guns later used to kill American troops in Iraq, according to State Department cables disclosed by WikiLeaks.
John D. Negroponte, deputy secretary of state at the time, wrote a December 2008 letter to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan expressing "deep concerns about Armenia's transfer of arms to Iran which resulted in the death and injury of U.S. soldiers in Iraq."
The cable, based on U.S. intelligence, includes the text of a classified letter labeled "secret" from Mr. Negroponte. It says "in 2007 some of these weapons were recovered from two Shia militant attacks in which a U.S. soldier was killed and six others were injured in Iraq."
Secret Documents Show Chinese Role on Iran
CNN | Nov 30
China has played a critical role in U.S. policy toward Iran since the Obama administration came into office, according to a CNN review of State Department cables published by WikiLeaks.
The documents shine a light on China's role as middle man between the United States and Iran in encouraging the two countries to engage in direct talks, even though Washington and Tehran have not had diplomatic relations since the Iranian embassy hostage crisis of 1979.
China may be talking to the United States about containing Iran's nuclear program, but the cables also reveal the role of Chinese enterprises in Iran's strategy to obtain materials for its missile programs and the U.S. State Department's efforts to counter that strategy.
Through official and nonofficial channels, the Chinese government sought to encourage the Obama administration and the Iranian government to directly engage each other. Xu Wei, a diplomat in the Iran division of the Chinese foreign ministry, told a U.S. political officer in March of 2009 that Beijing was hoping for "more clarity from the United States." Xu expressed the hope that Washington's Iran policy review would lead to direct talks between Iran and the United States.
The role of Chinese companies in selling possible weapons materials or technology to Iran arises in multiple cables from the Secretary of State's office. A cable dated September of 2009 expressed concerns about a French firm's sale of infrared detectors to Zhejiang Dali Technology Company Ltd, a Chinese firm, for use in its thermal imaging systems.
WikiLeaks Claims Are 'Psychological Warfare' Says Ahmadinejad
Guardian | Nov 29
Iran today lashed out at the WikiLeaks revelations, with the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dismissing the controversial leaks as a "worthless" psychological warfare campaign against his country. But Israel said it felt vindicated by the public exposure of Arab and international concern over Iran's nuclear programme.
Iranian media commented that the US does not trust its "agents" inside the Islamic republic and claimed there were US links to the mass protests and unrest that followed last year's disputed presidential election.
Arab governments maintained a discreet silence but Arabic-language media highlighted Guardian reports that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in particular had advocated military action against Iran to stop its nuclear programme. "The Arabs agitated against Iran," the Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV headlined its main story. Its rival, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya, initially made no reference to King Abdullah's call to attack Iran "to cut off the head of the snake" or to similarly hawkish comments by King Hamad of Bahrain, but later changed its story to include these.
The Saudi paper Okaz zoomed in on warnings by the British government that the massive leak could endanger lives. Other Arab media headlined stories focusing on Israel's ability to attack Iran as well as Tehran's acquisition of long-range missiles. The Saudi Gazette reported the WikiLeaks story but without mentioning the kingdom. In Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, where the crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, was reported by US officials as having made bellicose remarks about Iran, the English-language paper The National did not report a local link to the WikiLeaks story.
In Israel, the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, claimed vindication for the view that Iran constitutes the biggest regional threat and that its development of a nuclear capacity must be halted.
"Our region has been hostage to a narrative that is the result of 60 years of propaganda, which paints Israel as the greatest threat," Netanyahu [said]. "In reality leaders understand that that view is bankrupt. For the first time in history there is agreement that Iran is the threat."
Wiki-Releases Planned in Advance: Iran
Press TV | Nov 29
Iran's President has questioned the recent leaked documents obtained and published by the Wikileaks website, saying the US administration "released" material intentionally.
In response to a question by Press TV on Monday over the whistleblower website's "leaks," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said "let me first correct you. The material was not leaked, but rather released in an organized way."
"The US administration released them and based on them they pass judgment.... [The documents] have no legal value and will not have the political effect they seek," the Iranian chief executive added at the press briefing in Tehran.
Ahmadinejad stressed that the Wikileaks "game" is "not worth commenting upon and that no one would waste their time reviewing them."
"The countries in the region are like friends and brothers and these acts of mischief will not affect their relations," he added.
WikiLeaks: The Five Strangest Stories...So Far
Christian Science Monitor | Nov 29
Escape from Iran
Around noon on January 9, 2009, Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi, a US citizen of Iranian descent, arrived at the US consulate in Ankara, Turkey, with a harrowing story of escape from Iran.
Vahedi, age 75, visited Iran for a four-week trip to meet his family and visit his parents' gravesite. When he tried to return home to Los Angeles, Iranian authorities confiscated his passport and refused to give it back, unless he paid a fine of $150,000 and instructed his sons, music promoters in LA, to cancel a concert in Dubai by popular Persian pop singers Kamran and Hooman.
After seven months trapped in Iran, Vahedi paid smugglers $7,500 to take him across a freezing mountainous passage across the Iran-Turkey border a grueling, 14-hour journey, by horseback. The horse, recounts Vahedi, seemed to know the route very well.
After Vahedi cleared the border, Turkish authorities told the US consulate that they intended to deport him back to Iran. One standard practice of deportation is to round up deportees in the middle of the night, bus them to the southern border, and then shoot into the air, forcing them to run into Iran or Iraq. Fortunately for Vahedi, the State Department intervened and finally allowed him to return home.
As for Kamran and Hooman, they performed most recently in Dubai on November 18.
Iran Agrees to Talks on Nuclear Plans
AFP | Nov 30
Iran agreed Tuesday to a new round of talks in Geneva on December 6 and 7 with world powers on its controversial nuclear programme, an EU foreign affairs spokesman said.
Iran chief negotiator Said Jalili will meet for talks with EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, who will lead the international delegation, the spokesman said.
"We've now received a response from the Iranian authorities in which they have said that Dr. Jalili has accepted Catherine Ashton's proposal to meet in Geneva," the spokesman said.
"Talks between Catherine Ashton and Dr. Jalili will now take place on Monday and Tuesday next week in Geneva."
Ashton would lead the so-called "3+3" or "5+1" group of nations negotiating with Iran made up of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain) and Germany.
The talks will be the first between Iran and six world powers since October 2009.
The sanctions had "without doubt pushed Tehran back to the negotiating table," the official said.
Detained Iranian Lawyer Denounces Mistreatment in Prison
Radio Zamaneh | Nov 29
Nasrin Sotoudeh, detained Iranian lawyer, challenged the state in her trial by speaking out against being "mistreated" by prison officials.
Reza Khandan, husband of Sotoudeh told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that his wife has told the court that the "greatest pressure" on her is being kept in solitary confinement.
Sotoudeh was tried on Sunday in the branch 26 of Tehran's Revolutionary Court. Reza Khandan reports that Sotoudeh "followed up on her complaint against the prison official that had insulted her. While she had filed a complaint against him at the time, no copy of her complaint was in her file."
Khandan also reports that despite arguments put across by Sotoudeh's lawyers the judge refused to allow Sotoudeh out on bail or even allow her out of solitary confinement.
Sotoudeh is charged with "activities against national security, assembly and collusion to disturb national security and collaboration with the Human Rights Defenders Centre."
Nasrin Sotoudeh was held in an undetermined state in prison for a long time after her arrest on September 3. She went on a hunger strike until she was finally given the first session of her trial two weeks ago.
Sotoudeh's practice is mostly comprised of various human rights cases and before her arrest she also represented numerous post-election political detainees.
Journalist Nazanin Khosrovani Denied Visits
ICHRI | Nov 29
An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the family of journalist Nazanin Khosrovani who visited her in prison were told that she was banned from having visitors. Prison officials refused to provide any explanation about why Khosrovani could not receive visitors.
Nazanin Khosrovani was arrested by security forces at her home on Wednesday, 2 November and so far has only made one phone call to her family. The reasons and charges that led to her arrest have not been provided by authorities. Khosrovani had been unemployed as a journalist after the disputed 2009 election, and according to friends, she did not have any journalistic or political activity. Her arrest and the lack of information regarding her detention has amazed her former colleagues.
"They treat journalists like they would treat hardened criminals. Otherwise, if there is a claim, or if there are charges, they must transparently say what it is, and they should allow individuals to respond to those charges. Nazanin was not engaged in any work other than journalism. Her family and friends are waiting for the authorities to clear up the misunderstanding by releasing her momentarily," a former colleague of Khosravani's told the Campaign.
Iran Says Cyber Foes Caused Centrifuge Problems
Reuters | Nov 29
Enemies of Iran used computer code to make "limited" problems for centrifuges involved in uranium enrichment at some of its nuclear sites, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday.
"They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts," he told reporters at a media conference, the first time Iran has said a cyberbug affected its centrifuges.
"They did a bad thing. Fortunately our experts discovered that and today they are not able (to do that) anymore," he said.
Iran temporarily halted most of its uranium enrichment work earlier this month, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report said last week, a few days after former IAEA chief Olli Heinonen said the Islamic Republic had had problems with the equipment used in the programme for years and computer virus Stuxnet may be a factor.
OPINION & ANALYSIS
What Will the Arab Public Think?
Lamis Andoni (Al Jazeera) | Nov 29
Confidential cables by American diplomats in the region, revealed by WikiLeaks, expose weak and fearful Arab leaders who are dependent on US protection against real and imagined fears over Iran's potential possession of nuclear arms and its influence in the Arab world.
In the disclosed documents several Arab leaders sound unsure and lacking in self-confidence as they express concern that US engagement with Iran will fail to contain "the Iranian threat" and urge the US to stop Iran "at any cost". What is most striking is that some Arab officials appear to believe that the cost of war against Iran, in terms of regional instability, is less than the cost they may pay if Iran is "not stopped".
"Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter," a cable quoted Zaid Al Rifai, the head of the Jordanian senate and father of the current Jordanian prime minister, as saying. While Rifai, the brief continues, judged that a military strike would have a "catastrophic impact on the region," he nonetheless thought that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons would pay enough dividends to make that risk worthwhile.
While Arab leaders appear far more concerned about a nuclear Iran than a nuclear Israel, it is difficult to draw any comparisons as there is a marked absence of any mention of Arab leaders' views on Israel in the documents published so far. In fact, this has raised some speculation in the Arab world that the leaks may be a deliberate attempt to pressure Arab leaders to join an alliance with Israel against Iran. And while the documents reveal Arab leaders who are more obsessed with Iran than Israel, none of them indicate that there has been any official acceptance of the formation of an anti-Iranian pact with Israel.
Nevertheless, and even allowing for reservations about the nature of the leaks, the picture that emerges is one of feeble Arab leaders at the mercy of the US and pleading for Uncle Sam's protection.
The documents reveal that Gulf leaders in particular are afraid that Iran will use its influence over their Shia constituencies and its support for Hamas and Hezbollah to establish strongholds inside Arab countries. One UAE leader is quoted as saying that "Iran is establishing 'emirates' across the Muslim world, including south Lebanon and Gaza, sleeper 'emirates' in Kuwait, Bahrain and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, the mother of all 'emirates' in southern Iraq, and now Saada [in Yemen]".
WikiLeaks and the Diplomats
Editorial (New York Times) | Nov 29
The business of diplomacy is often messy and when private communications become public, it can also be highly embarrassing.
But what struck us, and reassured us, about the latest trove of classified documents released by WikiLeaks was the absence of any real skullduggery. After years of revelations about the Bush administration's abuses -- including the use of torture and kidnappings -- much of the Obama administration's diplomatic wheeling and dealing is appropriate and, at times, downright skillful.
The best example of that is its handling of Iran. As the cables show, the administration has been under pressure from both Israel and Arab states to attack Tehran's nuclear program pre-emptively. It has wisely resisted, while pressing for increasingly tough sanctions on Iran.
The Times and other news media have already reported much of this. What the cables add is sizzle: Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Israel warning that the world has just 6 to 18 months to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon; King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia imploring Washington to "cut off the head of the snake"; Bahrain's king warning that letting Iran's program proceed was "greater than the danger of stopping it."
The Israelis publicly raise the alarm all the time. Most Arab leaders never do. If they believe Iran poses a major threat, they need to tell their own people and work a lot harder to pressure Iran to abandon its program.
The cables also add insight into how the Obama administration has built the case for sanctions against Iran. To win China's support, it got Saudi Arabia to promise Beijing a steady supply of oil. To win over Russia, it replaced a Bush-era missile defense plan with one that is just as effective that Moscow finds less threatening.
WikiLeaks Lesson: Deception Par for the Course in Mideast Diplomacy
Tony Karon (Time) | Nov 29
The latest WikiLeaks diplomatic-document dump carries its own disclaimer. It's in the title of cable 09DOHA728, sent from the U.S. embassy in Doha, the capital of Qatar, under the following header: QATAR'S PRIME MINISTER ON IRAN: "THEY LIE TO US; WE LIE TO THEM." Indeed. The art of concealing true intent and attitude while purporting to speak frankly is as old as diplomacy itself, and hardly confined to encounters between Iranians and Qataris. It would be naive to imagine that the same principle didn't apply in conversations between the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East.
There's little of surprise in the documents released thus far, although they contain plenty of material to embarrass many key U.S. allies in the region simply by broadcasting things that are typically said discreetly. The initial headlines on the documents' impact on the Middle East focused on revelations that some key moderate Arab allies of the U.S. have exhorted Washington to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. That news will be gleefully seized upon by those in Israel and the U.S. who urge the same course of action, but it will severely embarrass the regimes thus implicated. After all, it's not as if the region's pro-U.S. monarchs reflect the views of their citizenry -- on the contrary, in this year's edition of the authoritative University of Maryland poll of Arab public opinion, 57% of respondents said that Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons would have a positive effect on the region. So the revelation that their governments have urged the U.S. to launch a third war against a Muslim country will land those monarchs in hot water at home, and possibly in their neighborhoods.
It's not news that the politically brittle Arab regimes most threatened by the popular enthusiasm for Iran's confrontational posturing would like to see Tehran taken down a few pegs. But that's unlikely to change U.S. calculations. The Pentagon's argument against bombing, reiterated last week by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is that it wouldn't stop Iran's nuclear program but would simply set it back by a year or two. Besides the potentially disastrous backlash that could imperil U.S. interests throughout the region, Gates argued that bombing would strengthen Tehran's regime and ensure that it goes ahead and builds the ultimate deterrent weapons -- a decision it has not yet taken, according to the U.S. intelligence consensus.
An Enlightened Exchange in Iran
Tina Rosenberg (New York Times) | Nov 29
This is a story about a courageous policy in an unexpected place. In this place homeless shelters have vending machines selling clean syringes for injecting drugs. Drug users are not prosecuted as long as they are in treatment programs. Drug addicts are given clean needles and methadone maintenance therapy ─ available on a widespread basis even in prison. These tactics have worked to reduce crime, lower H.I.V. rates among drug users and keep AIDS from spreading out into the general population. The place is not Amsterdam. It is Tehran.
Needle exchange is part of an overall approach to drugs called harm reduction, which seeks to make drug use less deadly to the addict and to diminish the crime and disease that drug addiction causes. In most countries that use harm reduction, possessing drugs is still illegal. But drug abuse is treated mainly as a disease, not a crime. An example of what harm reduction looks like can be seen in the Persepolis clinics, in Tehran's south. Persepolis began as one drop-in center in a drug-ridden neighborhood, and later expanded to five centers. The clinics have outreach teams of former drug users who contact their peers on the street. The clinics offer needles, methadone, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS tests and other medical care. They get people into drug treatment programs. Drug users can take showers, and sit all day and drink tea. When there is money, the clinics serve lunch and give out clothing. One clinic, with an all-female staff, is only for women. The clinics are an avenue for drug users to come into the health system, where they can get help.
Harm reduction is relatively new in Iran. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran cracked down hard on drug users, declaring addiction to be counter-revolutionary. All drug treatment was stopped. Hundreds of thousands of drug users were sent to labor camps. Possession of heroin was a capital offense.
These punitive policies only added to a spiraling epidemic of drug use. Ten years ago, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that Iran's drug problem was one of the most serious in the world (sharing a 570-mile border with opium-growing Afghanistan does not help.) The harsh policies only drove drug users further underground; fear of being caught with a needle meant users would use the community needle the dealer provided. Going to prison was particularly dangerous. Prisons are havens of needle sharing, and having been incarcerated is the single strongest predictor of H.I.V. infection in Iran. Good data is scarce, but at one prison surveyed in 2001, 63 percent of all injecting drug users were H.I.V. positive. Testing of drug users who visited the Persepolis clinic found that fully a quarter of them had the AIDS virus.
Yet by 2005, harm reduction had become official policy in Iran. Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, the head of the judiciary, sent a letter to all courts and judicial authorities instructing them to support methadone and needle exchange. Even prisons in Iran now have widespread methadone, and there have been pilot projects in prisons for needle exchange -- something not yet found in prisons in the United States, Canada or Australia. In 2007, 95 percent of drug injectors surveyed in Iran said they had used safe equipment when they last injected.
The rate of new H.I.V. infections in Iran rose until 2005, and has dropped ever since. A top drug control official, Saeed Sefatian, said in 2008 that 18 percent of injecting drug users were H.I.V.-positive, but estimated that if it weren't for harm reduction, that number would have been 40 percent. New infections among drug users have continued to drop. Surveys at sentinel sites in pre-natal clinics have not yet turned up not a single pregnant woman with H.I.V. -- an excellent indication that the epidemic has been contained.
DOCUMENTS & DECLARATIONS
Statement on Shahla Jahed's Imminent Execution
Considering the various flaws and misgivings as well as the existing documents and evidences, the International Campaign of Human Rights Lawyers (ICHRL) asks the head of the Judiciary to immediately halt the execution of Shahla Jahed. There are serious questions and doubts about the veracity and accuracy of the verdict and death sentence.
On February 3, 2003, Shahla Jahed, before the judicial and police authorities and in the presence of national media, stated that she is not the murderer of Laleh Saharkhizan and has insisted many times that she was not involved in the murder. Based on the statement of Major Abharian, one of the officers assigned to the investigation of the case, the fate of Shahla Jahed changed forever after she received a private and illegal visit at Tehran's Agahi (the police criminal investigation unit) by Nasser Mohammad Khani and one of his friends. After this meeting and due to her extreme affection for Nasser Mohammad Khani, and apparently because of his private request in the meeting, Shahla Jahed denied admitting earlier (of non-guilt) and confessed to the murder.
Major Abharian states that he obtained evidence that pointed to the innocence of Shahla Jahed. However, the case was taken away from Major Abharian and he is not allowed any involvement in the case anymore. Major Abharian is one of the senior officers of the Tehran police force and has longtime experience in investigating serious crimes, and honour, serial, and organized killings. He explicitly stated that Shahla Jahed is innocent and believes that the police and the security agents have planned [all along] to blame Shahla Jahed for the murder of Laleh Saharkhizan who was killed by the security organizations. He also believes there were evidences in favour of the defendant's (Shahla) innocence that were intentionally not collected. He adds that the crime scene was compromised and destroyed from the start of the investigations. The traces of the crime were cleared and the evidences that showed Shahla Jahed's innocence were destroyed by some of the plainclothes agents acting under the supervision of Colonel Kashfi, Tehran's Criminal Investigation Unit deputy director.
ICHRL, out of duty and to prevent the death of an innocent human, condemns any form of the death penalty. It joins the opponents of the death penalty across the world to remind [the authorities] that the death penalty is irreversible, and once carried out [and] the defendant is proven to be innocent, there is no return. Given the serious flaws and doubts in the course of the investigations and due to the explicit contradictions in the evidences presented, including the statements of the investigating officer, the verdict and the death sentence were issued in a manner inconsistent with the legal procedures and do not have the required legal credibility. The hesitation of the former Head of the Judiciary as to whether Shahla Jahed was really behind this murder and his orders that the case be re-investigated and retired is a testament to [our] claim.
ICHRL once again insists that the execution of Shahla Jahed has to be halted and asks all international human rights institutions and organizations to protest such unfair proceedings and prevent the Islamic Republic Judiciary from, once again, unfairly taking the life of an innocent person.