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'Mossad Hitman' in TV Tell-All; Banned in Iran: Novelist Paulo Coelho

13 Jan 2011 02:53Comments

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.



Terrorist Confesses to Receiving Training in Israel for Assassinating Iranian Scientist

Fars | Jan 11

The main element behind the assassination of Iran's nuclear scientist Masoud Ali Mohammadi acknowledged that he and the other terrorists had been trained in an Israeli garrison near Tel Aviv.

"I become acquainted with a number of Israeli officers on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway after we had a visit to Israel and I received different training courses, including chasing, running, counter-chasing and techniques for planting bombs in a car," Majid Jamalifash, the hit man of the terrorist group, said in his confessions aired by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

The terrorist added that he had also been trained in that Israeli garrison how to carry out bomb attacks while riding a motorcycle.

Jamalifash also said that he had received psychological and operational briefings for assassinating Dr. Ali Mohammadi and had exercised the bombing plot for killing the Iranian scientist several times at the Israeli garrison.

He noted that small models of Dr. Mohammadi's house and his house surroundings were used during his training course.

Iran Broadcasts 'Confession' of Man It Says Was Part of Assassination Plot

Guardian | Jan 11

Mohammadi was blown up outside his house last January when a remote-control bomb that had been attached to a motorcycle parked on the street detonated in a northern suburb of Tehran.

Jamali-Fash claimed that he was briefed about Mohammadi in Israel and was given detailed instructions of the assassination plot "in a military camp situated in the highway between Tel Aviv to Jerusalem".

"Two new Iranian-made motorbikes were there [in Israel].... They told me where to go, where to stop, who to call and how to do things back in Iran," he said.

At the time of the assassination, it was not immediately clear whether Mohammadi was involved in Iran's nuclear activities, and speculation was rife over the reasons for his killing when it emerged that he was a supporter of the Iranian opposition. But later it was revealed that he was a member of an Iranian team at the Sesame Council, a joint project involving different countries including Israel which runs a particle accelerator in Jordan.

Iran Reveals Nuclear Death Arrests

Al Jazeera | Jan 11

Mohammadi, 50, had no prominent political voice, no published work with military relevance and no declared links to the country's nuclear programme, though his work included some aspects of nuclear theory.

[In a news conference, Heydar Moslehi, Iran's intelligence minister,] said, "It's been proven to us that the Zionist Regime opposes any scientific progress in the region and among Islamic countries.

"So all prominent scientists of the region face the threat of being assassinated by the Zionist Regime.

"Due to our duty, we shall inform the Islamic countries and other countries of the region in that regard."

During the briefing, weapons and ID cards allegedly belonging to the arrested people were also shown to the media.

Al Jazeera's Alireza Ronaghi, reporting from Tehran, said: "The most important thing to remember here is that the intelligence ministry has been under enormous pressure, throughout last year since January 2010, when Dr Ali Mohammadi was assassinated.

"In a way, the intelligence ministry was under pressure to come out and say something about its activities and although it's not saying much at the moment, it's crucial for them to say these things to relieve the pressure that they are under."


Iran Bans Paulo Coelho's Books

IANS (via Tabnak) | Jan 11

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho on Monday denounced in a message posted in his blog that all his books have been banned in Iran.

"Unfortunately I was informed today that the ministry of culture and 'Islamic Guidance' in Iran has banned all of your books, even the unauthorised versions published by other publishers," Coelho's editor in Iran, Arash Hejazi, told the author Sunday in a message that Coelho posted to his own blog.

Hejazi wrote: "My friends have been told that no book that has Paulo Coelho's name on it will be authorised to be published in Iran anymore."

Coelho, who wrote The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage, among other bestsellers, noted that his books have been published in Iran since 1998, and that he has sold more than six million copies in that country, "under different governments."

Hejazi advised Coelho to make his books "freely available on [the] Internet in Persian."

"I just answered Arash, and we will have the books for free download" on the Internet, the author said.

See also: "Books Banned in Iran" [Persian-language downloads] (PauloCoelhoBlog.com)

Brazilian Author Coelho Says Iran Bans His Books

Reuters | Jan 10

His editor in Iran, Arash Hejazi, was shown in video footage during anti-government protests in June 2009 trying to save the life of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death became a symbol of the violence that followed Iran's disputed elections.

Coelho said he did not know the reason for Iran's decision to ban his books, but noted that he had used social networks online to support Hejazi during the violence.

See also: "Doctor Tells How Neda Soltan Was Shot Dead by Ahmadinejad's Basij" (The Times)



Breaking News: Mashaee under Investigation

Rooz | Jan 12

The head of Iran parliament's Article 90 (of the constitution) committee announced that the case of Esfandiyar Rahim Mashaee will be subjected to a "special procedure". At a press conference yesterday, which received extensive news coverage in the Iranian media, across the political spectrum, hojjat-ol-Islam Ebrahim Nikoonam criticized the statements that Mashai as the president's chief of staff had made and which ranged from his comments on the free role of music in the country to his ideas on the Iranian political school of thought (which some have interpreted to be in competition with the Islamic school of thought).

According to Nikoonam, it is members of Article 90 committee who are responsible for evaluating "tension provoking" statements made by government officials, and Mashaee's remarks fall into that category. He also stressed that the parliamentary committee paid particular attention to the "dismissal of ministers and high-ranking officials of the country" adding, "though these issues fall under the authority of the president, we note that their persistence will create problems for the country". Nikoonam also described the present conditions of the country as "sensitive" and based on this urged for better use of "exceptional opportunities".

Cleric Nikoonam did not explain at his press conference yesterday who had filed a complaint to the committee against Mashaee but by calling Mashaee's statements "sensitive" said, "in addition to the reports we have received in this regard, we stepped up vigilance as our duty requires". He also referred to this possibility that the "incitement' created by the presidential chief of staff might be "rooted in foreign agendas".

Previously, some high-ranking officials and political personalities had insinuated the possibility of links between the presidential office and some foreign states. Nikoonam however expressed his hope that "this suspicion [would] be untrue". In explaining his views, he said, "Such words might be said by those who are not affiliated with the government but when they are said by those who are part of the government they causes serious concern for us". Hossein Shariatmadari, the managing editor of Kayhan daily and Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a member of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership, are among those make such accusations against Mashaee.


Israel Army Brass and Barak Clashed on Iran War: Report

Reuters | Jan 12

Israel's military chief objected last year to a proposal to attack Iranian nuclear sites by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who retaliated by cutting the general's tenure, an Israeli newspaper reported Wednesday.

Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, who retires next month, believed that "initiating a war will only bring disaster upon Israel" and won Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "promise that his view would be heard," the Haaretz daily said.

"This had a fatal impact on (Ashkenazi's) relationship with the defense minister," said the unsourced report by columnist Aluf Benn, who has broken stories on secret cabinet debates.

Citing professional considerations, Barak announced last April that Ashkenazi's four-year term would not be extended by a year, as is customary. The defense minister named Yoav Galant, the general in charge of Israel's Gaza front, to succeed him.

"The impression is that Galant is more aggressive on Iran and will not block Netanyahu and Barak, who are eager to go into battle" against Iran, the Haaretz report said.


Iranian MP Challenges Guardian Council Support for Government Violations

Radio Zamaneh | Jan 11

Ali Motahari, Iranian conservative MP challenged the latest statements of Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, chairman of Iran's Guardian Council, against the parliament and urged the hardliner to refrain from "belittling and weakening" the parliament.

In last week's Friday Mass sermon, Ahamd Jannati, one of Iran's top hardline clerics, rebuked the parliament for widespread impeachment of ministers.

He maintained the ministers are heavily burdened by the responsibilities of carrying out the government's recent overhaul of state subsidies and their time should not be taken by parliamentary questionings.

Iranian conservative MP Ali Motahari writes in his website that "violations committed by ministers" are the cause of the increase in impeachments.

He asks: "For example when the Minister of Economy refuses to carry out the legislation regarding financial facilities for Tehran subway system and the president says I do not consider this a law and will not execute it, is it not the responsibility of representatives to defend people's rights and to question the minister and the president?"

Motahari finally reminds Jannati that "a strong parliament is to the advantage of the whole system and a strong obstacle against the tendency toward despotism."

Clerical Elites Not Supportive of Supreme Leader

Rooz | Jan 11

[A] conservative party group exposed the sense of fear and doubt among the elites in the aftermath of last year's protests and complained that this fear had driven them into "silence and fear so much that they could no longer defend the supreme leader". In this regard, the Assembly for Public Demands of Mashhad (Majmae Motalebe Mardomi Mashhad) expressed its regret for the lack of support for Ayatollah Khamenehi among academics and clerics, and for "their big mistake". It added that many among the clerical elites don't support the velayate faqih (rule of the clergy) and look down at the leadership position as one of "political elitism". Also according to this statement, many among the clerical and academic elites decided not to defend the supreme leader against last year's events for fear of "overspending their reputation and status".

This is the very first time that a conservative group puts the defense of the supreme leader in such terms as gambling with "reputation and status" and admits that even among the conservatives some hold the leader as an elite politician and not the vali faqih (rule of clerics). In turn, the leader of the Islamic republic has labeled such people as "shortsighted elite". The supreme leader also believes that "the vote-rigging claims against the election were propagated because of the same shortsighted elite".


Organizers of "Hedda Gabler" in Iran Called for Questioning

Radio Zamaneh | Jan 12

Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, Tehran prosecutor announced that the director and organizers of the play Hedda Gabler in Tehran have been summoned to the prosecutor's office for questioning.

The prosecutor said that the organizers of the play have been called to give explanations about the theatre production of Hedda Gabler which was recently shut down amidst controversy regarding its content.

He added that according to reports, the content and execution of this play has presented a number of "difficulties" which has led to the shut down of the play. Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi maintained that any activity that endangers the cultural security of the society will be firmly confronted.

Fars news agency published a report on the play claiming it "promoted hedonism." Fars has further described this production of Hedda Gabler as vulgar and it has condemned its sexual content.

According to Fars news agency, the play presents having multiple husbands as an ordinary affair and "uses symbols attributed to the sects connected with sexual slavery and freemasonry."

See also Fars photos of play.

Istanbul Talks May Be West's Last Chance, Tehran Says

Mehr | Jan 12

Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh has advised the West to grasp the "historic opportunity" of the upcoming talks with Iran, implying that the talks could be the major powers' last chance.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are scheduled to hold talks in Istanbul on January 21 and 22.

"By installing fuel rods produced by Iran in the core of the Tehran research reactor, probably the Majlis [parliament] will not allow the government once again to negotiate or send its uranium to Turkey or other countries," Soltanieh told reporters on Wednesday.

"If it happens, Iran will continue to produce [nuclear fuel]," he said.

Based on the Tehran Declaration signed between Iran, Turkey, and Brazil on May 17 Iran was to ship 1200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey to be exchanged for 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel rods to power the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for cancer treatment.

Soltanieh went to say that the planned meeting in Istanbul will be a "historic opportunity" for the Western governments to come back to the negotiating table. "The time is not passing in their favor and they should seize this opportunity."

Iran Says Time Running Out for Nuclear Deal

New York Times | Jan 12

It was not immediately clear why the fuel-swap plan had been revived. Since the tentative deal was first agreed upon, Iran has produced much more enriched uranium than it had at the time, and it has also enhanced its ability to enrich uranium. However, a Western diplomat in Vienna, where the U.N.'s atomic energy agency has its headquarters, said that it was not clear whether Iran was able to certify the enriched uranium for use as fuel.

The diplomat spoke in return for anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

"This kind of last chance language has been used repeatedly by both sides" in negotiations with Iran, the diplomat said. "But time keeps on running anyhow." Moreover, he added, "neither side wants to scupper the deal, even though it has not progressed."

Germany Wouldn't Join Military Action to Halt Iran Nuclear Aims

Bloomberg | Jan 12

Germany wouldn't join in a military strike to halt Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program even if the U.S. determined that such action was required, Germany's deputy foreign minister, Werner Hoyer, said today.

"We are definitely not going to participate in a military action" to scuttle Iran's suspected nuclear bomb program, Hoyer said in an interview in Bloomberg's Washington Bureau. "This is something the United States will one day have to decide if the situation cannot be avoided, but we hope it can be avoided," he said.

Germany favors "step-by step negotiations" to build up trust with Iran, "but at the same time we obviously need pressure on the Iranians," Hoyer said.

Hoyer said that Germany and the other P5+1 members rejected the invitation from Tehran's leaders last week for the group to inspect nuclear sites in Iran because "responsibility for the checking of the Iranian nuclear installations and research facilities lies with the IAEA and nobody else," a reference to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

Experts Can Accompany Visitors in Touring Iranian Nuclear Sites: Officials

Mehr | Jan 12

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has announced the visitors invited to tour Iran's nuclear sites can be accompanied by nuclear experts.

"Iran has invited visitors to build confidence and show its goodwill. The invitation should be regarded as an opportunity and a positive step, so we announce that the visitors can be accompanied by nuclear experts," Mehmanparast told reporters on Wednesday.

Iran has invited some members of the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Group of 77, and the Non-aligned Movement to visit Natanz nuclear enrichment plant and Arak heavy water reactor on January 15 and 16.

Russia Positive about Nuclear Tour

Iran Daily | Jan 12

Russia on Tuesday said it was interested in Iran's invitation to inspect its nuclear facilities, saying the offer represented a step towards dialogue on Tehran's nuclear case.

In Russia's first official comments on the invitation, which was sent on January 4 to Russia, China, Egypt, Cuba and rotating EU president Hungary, a senior foreign ministry official called the offer a positive step.

"We received this initiative with interest," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"We believe that the Iranian side has thus demonstrated its readiness to move toward a certain dialogue on this important subject," he added.

Pentagon Must Sharpen Iran Strategy to Counter Arms Buildup, Congress Says

Bloomberg | Jan 10

Congress is demanding that the Pentagon prepare a "national military strategic plan" for countering Iran's nuclear and conventional arms build-up, and to brief lawmakers on it.

The Pentagon additionally must inform lawmakers of "any resources, capabilities, or changes to current law" that officials believe "are necessary to address the gaps identified in the strategy," according to a congressional joint statement accompanying the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill which President Barack Obama's signed on Friday.

The provision is the second in as many years directing the military leaders to initiate a specific task pertaining to Iran. Congress last year, in its fiscal 2010 defense bill, required an unclassified report on Iran's current military capabilities and strategy.

The new section goes further and "appears to reflect the views of those who believe a more well-developed military option" is needed to counter Iran's potential nuclear weapons program, said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst with the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.

Appointment of Salehi as FM Close to Certain: Spokesman

Tehran Times | Jan 12

The Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday there is a strong possibility that President Ahmadinejad would name Ali Akbar Salehi as foreign minister to Majlis for a vote of confidence.

"We hope that the president take measures to introduce his proposed nominee for the post of foreign minister more quickly who is most likely Mr. Salehi," Ramin Mehmanparast told a weekly press briefing.

In this case, the concerns about the situation of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) will also be allayed, the spokesperson said.

Sebi Warns on Iran Money in Stock Market

Financial Express | Jan 12

In order to safeguard Indian markets from money laundering and terror financing risks from Iran, watchdog Sebi [Securities and Exchange Board of India] has asked market players to be cautious in dealing with entities and funds from that country.

The warning has been issued to stock exchanges and other market intermediaries by Sebi through a circular, containing a global financial market caution notice on Iran by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

FATF is an inter-governmental body responsible for making policies at national and international levels to combat money laundering and terror financing.

The stock exchanges, in turn, have asked brokers to ensure compliance with the Sebi circular. As per the warning, all the financial institutions have been advised "to give special attention to business relationships and transactions with Iran, including Iranian companies and financial institutions."

Transit of Fuel Trucks to Afghanistan Resolved: Iran Says

Radio Zamaneh | Jan 11

Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry announced that a certain group is trying to strain Iran-Afghanistan relations and added that the fuel trucks, which are said to have been blocked by Iran, were in fact allowed passage into to Afghanistan last week.

In the past weeks, a number of Afghan organizations have spoken out against Iran's block on the transiting fuel trucks headed for Afghanistan and called for cutting off business relation with Iran.

A rally call from the Afghan National Coalition Party was answered by hundreds of Afghans last week who demonstrated in front of Iranian embassy in Kabul chanting anti-Iran slogans and condemning the block on the fuel trucks.

Najibollah Kabuli, leader of the Afghan National Coalition Party, had told the demonstrators that if Iran does not end this blockade, Iranian goods must be boycotted in Afghanistan.

Despite the claims from Iranian foreign ministry, yesterday [the] Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry also spoke out against the stopping of fuel trucks in Iran and suggested an end to trade and commerce with Iran if the problem persisted.

Switzerland Does Not Approve of Iran Sanctions

Tehran Times | Jan 12

Visiting Swiss Deputy Foreign Minister Peter Maurer has said Bern does not approve of sanctions against Iran.

Maurer made the remarks in a meeting with Ali Ahani, Iranian deputy foreign minister for European affairs.

Peter also said Iran plays an important role in the region and this is why Switzerland is interested in interaction with Tehran and discussing regional and international issues with it.

Salehi, German FM Discuss Journalists

Iran Daily | Jan 11

Germany's foreign minister in a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart has made a fresh request for the quick return of two German journalists detained in Iran.

The foreign ministry in Berlin said late on Monday that Guido Westerwelle also thanked Ali Akbar Salehi for his "personal engagement" in efforts to resolve the case, AP reported.

The German journalists, who Iran says entered the country on tourist visas, were arrested on October 10 when they tried to meet the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, the woman convicted of adultery and complicity in her husband's death, without appropriate press credentials.

Foreign reporters need special visa and permit to work in Iran. Tehran says they have admitted to breaking the law.

Talking to the Hamburg-based journal Der Spiegel on Saturday, Salehi said an apology from the German publisher Axel Springer AG for whom the two journalists detained in Tabriz work, could be help resolve their case.

He called on the company to admit it had made a mistake when it sent its reporters to Iran on a tourist visa in violation of Iranian law.

Salehi said Axel Springer should apologize for distorting events, and give assurances that it would not occur again.

Iraq to Expel MKO Members by End of 2011

Tabnak | Jan 12

An Iraqi official has said that members of the terrorist grouplet Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) would be expelled from Iraq by the end of 2011.

The official in the Iraqi premier's office, Abdallah Al-Bayzaee, told the Iraqi political weekly, Al-Osboa, that the MKO grouplet members will be expelled from Iraq because of their enmity towards the Islamic Republic of Iran and their crimes against the Iraqi people including the innocent people of the Kurdistan region, according to a report by IRIB on Wednesday.

Jom'eh Atwani, member of the National Iraqi Alliance, has earlier told Iraqi newspapers that the American authorities opposed deportation of MKO members and put the Iraqi government under pressure to allow them stay in Iraq. "The continued presence of MKO members in Iraq benefits the Americans and is against the interests of the Iraqi people," he had said.


Teacher's Union Member Rasoul Bodaghi Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

RAHANA | Jan 12

Teacher Union Member Rasoul Bodaghi was sentenced to 6 years in prison on Monday.

Masoud Shafiei, his lawyer, stated that his client has been convicted of assembly and conspiracy with the intent of committing security crimes and anti-regime propaganda.

In September, he was put under pressure by the authorities in Rajaei Shahr Prison and was threatened to be tortured several times.

Tabriz Political Prisoners Threatened after Hunger Strike

ICHRI | Jan 11

An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that two political prisoners from the province of Azerbaijan, Dr. Latif Hassani and Ayat Mehrali Beigloo are under threats from prison authorities for additional limitations and harsher treatment. Both prisoners have gone on hunger strike inside the Special Ward of Tabriz Prison since 1 January.

The source told the Campaign that Hassani and Beigloo, who have been in detention for the past eight months, started a hunger strike on 1 January 2011 to protest their state of judicial limbo, their unsuitable detention conditions in prison, and the deprivation of all their rights. Prison authorities have ignored their demands and the two prisoners were told a few days ago that if they continue their hunger strike, their treatment would become more harsh. The Special Ward of Tabriz Prison is comprised of several small cells and lacks any hygienic or recreational facilities.

After seven months in solitary confinement under severe psychological and physical torture inside the Tabriz Intelligence Office's Central Detention Center, Latif Hassani and Ayat Mehrali Beigloo were moved to the Special Ward of Tabriz Prison where they share a small cell with three murder convicts.

Nima Derakhshi, Hamid Amiri and 6 Other Arak University Students Still in Detention

RAHANA | Jan 12

Nima Derakhshi and Hamid Amiri, members of the Arak University Islamic Student Association, and 6 other students were arrested on January 2nd and are still held in prison.

The reason for the arrests is connected to the pressure put on the students following Ahmadinejad's trip to Arak on December 7th and 8th.

During his trip to Arak, several students were summoned and interrogated at the Intelligence Ministry. Several others were threatened by the Disciplinary Committee.

Azad University was shut down and the students were not allowed inside the campus.

Latest News about Prisoner of Conscience Mohammad Nourizad

ICHRI | Jan 11

Fatemeh Maleki, wife of prisoner of conscience Mohammad Nourizad, spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about her first in-person visit with her husband after a two-month ban on visitations. "Last Tuesday we had an in-person visit with Mr. Nourizad. Thank God he was well. But his toothache problem persists. When he had a furlough six months ago, the dentist planned for a six-month treatment for him, but, unfortunately, he had to return to prison again and his condition got worse there. Fortunately, we heard that he had one tooth pulled on Saturday. Of course we had hoped that the problem with his teeth would have been addressed a lot sooner. Now they have promised to treat his teeth in prison, and we hope this would happen," she said.

Mohammad Nourizad, a documentary filmmaker and veteran journalist formerly with Kayhan Newspaper, was arrested after the 2009 election after he wrote three letters to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Sadegh Larijani in which he criticized them.

He was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and 50 lashes on charges of "propagating against the regime," and "insulting Islamic Republic authorities." Recently, Nourizad was tried again on charges waged against him by the Ministry of Intelligence for reporting prison abuse by Intelligence forces and was sentenced to an additional two years in prison. Following his hunger strike to protest the court ruling, Nourizad was transferred to the hospital. He was barred from having visitors and telephone contact and his family did not have any information about his condition.

Iran Cigarette Spending Huge

Iran Daily | Jan 12

The money Iranians spend on cigarettes every day is ten times more than the money spent on bread, according to a report released by the Iranian Campaign Against Tobacco.

This is while Iran's Health Ministry has mandated the use of graphic warning labels on cigarette packs, which was expected to reduce the number of smokers, Mehr News Agency reported.

Statistics, however, show a growing trend toward cigarette use among different age groups, which calls for more efforts to control the trend.

Dr. Kazem Nadafi, an official with Health Ministry, said sharing waterpipes increases the risk of infectious diseases, including hepatitis and TB.

"Individuals having close contact with cigarette and waterpipe smokers, particularly smokers with risky behaviors, are more likely to be contaminated with infectious diseases," he said.

Nadafi warned that the regular use of waterpipe will lead to addiction.


Iran Fights Back to Beat Iraq

Tabnak | Jan 11

Three-time champions Iran stormed back from the shock of conceding an early goal to grab a 2-1 victory over archrivals and holders Iraq at the AFC Asian Cup on Tuesday.

With United Arab Emirates and Korea DPR playing out a 0-0 draw earlier, Iran top Group D after the first round of games. Iman Mobali was the hero for Iran, his free-kick - which looked like an intended cross - drifting in with six minutes left for an emotional win that his side just about deserved, according to a report by AFP from Doha, Qatar.

There was a brief period of silence before the highly-anticipated clash at a half-full Al-Rayyan Stadium for 77 people who died on Sunday evening in an Iran plane crash.

Beating Iraq Very Special: Iran Coach

AFP (via Times of India) | Jan 12

Iran on Wednesday basked in the glory of coming from behind to defeat holders and great rivals Iraq at the Asian Cup with their coach calling it "a very special" victory.

"When these two teams play each other there's so much rivalry and history, so it's very difficult to get the players to concentrate and focus on football and it becomes a fighting game," said Afshin Ghotbi.

"I was very happy my players were able to concentrate and could get this very special three points."

Iran, traditionally one of the major powers in the region, have not lifted the Asian Cup since 1976 and the pressure is firmly on the 46-year-old Ghotbi to bring that long barren run to an end.

Persian Films on Show in Boston

Iran Daily | Jan 12

The 17th edition of the annual Boston Film Festival will screen award-winning productions by Iranian directors at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

This year's festival will kick off on January 14, 2011, with Babak Jalali's 'Frontier Blues'. Set in 'Iran's Turkmen community, the film tells the stories of four men and features a cast of nonprofessional actors, Presstv reported.

Mohsen Abdolvahab's 'Please Do Not Disturb', Reza Haeri's 'All Restrictions End', Fardin Sahebzamani's 'There are Things You Don't Know', Alireza Davoudnejad's 'Salve' and Mohammad Rasoulof's 'White Meadows' are also among the films which will be screened during the event.

Supported by the ILEX Foundation and one of the most important venues of the contemporary Iranian cinema in the US, the 2011 Boston Festival of Films from Iran will run until January 29.


Netanyahu Walks Back Dagan et al

Ali Gharib (Lobelog.com) | Jan 12

Just off the news that a parade of high-ranking Israeli officials, including the outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan, have been pushing back their Iranian nuclear timetable, right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with foreign press in which he emphasized that Israel is still very much focused on Iran.

Fox News has the story under the headline "Israel's Main Concern: Iran, Iran and Iran." Notice the bad writing and typo at the end of the paragraph ([emphasized] by me), where what was surely meant to be a "credible military option" has become "incredible military option." Fox's Yael Kuriel:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with foreign press representatives on Tuesday, where he described Iran as the main concern for governments in the region. He further asserted that Iran "is determined to move ahead despite every difficulty, every obstacle and every setback to create nuclear weapons". While congratulating the US government insisting on imposing economic sanctions, he stressed that "those sanction have not yet achieved their objectives". The only chance that these sanctions will achieve their objectives is if the sanctions were to follow by incredible military options.

The Day There Is No Bomb

Sever Plocker, Yediot Senior Editor (Yediot via Coteret) | Jan 9

One of the most historically important statements to have been made in the past ten years in the State of Israel made headlines in the Israeli media on Friday for a single day. It elicited a few reactions and a few brief analyses -- and disappeared. The statement was ascribed to (and was not subsequently denied by) the outgoing Mossad director, Meir Dagan.

Dagan, a suspicious super-cautious individual who routinely prefers to err on the side of pessimism, was quoted as having said: "Iran will not have nuclear military capability at least until 2015."

For more than a decade, Israel has been living under the thickening cloud of the Iranian nuclear bomb. The military, economic and even the social agendas in Israel have been directly influenced by it. The election of Netanyahu as prime minister (and Barak's joining the coalition) were explained by the need to place at the head of the state and the security establishment people who would be capable of leading the people and the army in this decisive year in dealing with Iran. From time to time, in light of the foolish things that the two of them have done, public opinion was asked to be forgiving of them because of the weight of the Iranian threat that lay on their shoulders.

That was the case up until Friday, January 7, 2011. On that day, the world order was changed. The Iranian nuclear threat died. It keeled over. Because, if the director of the State of Israel's Mossad is prepared to risk saying that Iran won't have even a single nuclear bomb "at least until 2015," that means that Iran is not going to have a nuclear bomb. Period.

The Turkish Role in Negotiations with Iran

George Friedman (Stratfor) | Jan 11

The Iranians have clearly learned from the North Koreans, who have turned their nuclear program into a framework for entangling five major powers (the United States, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea) into treating North Korea as their diplomatic equal.

The mere threat of nuclear weapons development has succeeded in doing that.

The Iranians have achieved a similar position. By far the weakest of the negotiators, they have created a dynamic whereby they are not only sitting across the table from the six most powerful countries in the world but are also, like the North Koreans, frequently being coaxed there. With the obvious blessings of the others, a seventh major power, Turkey, has positioned itself to facilitate and perhaps mediate between the two sides: the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany on one side, Iran on the other. This is [...] an extraordinary line-up...

The United States now faces a critical choice. If it continues its withdrawal of forces from Iraq, Iraq will be on its way to becoming an Iranian satellite. Certainly, there are anti-Iranian elements even among the Shi'ites, but the covert capability of Iran and its overt influence, coupled with its military presence on the border, will undermine Iraq's ability to resist. If Iraq becomes an Iranian ally or satellite, the Iraqi-Saudi and Iraqi-Kuwaiti frontier becomes, effectively, the frontier with Iran.

The psychological sense in the region will be that the United States has no appetite for resisting Iran. Having asked the Americans to deal with the Iranians, and having failed to get them to do so, the Saudis will have to reach some accommodation with Iran. In other words, with the most strategically located country in the Middle East -- Iraq -- Iran now has the ability to become the dominant power in the Middle East and simultaneously reshape the politics of the Arabian Peninsula.

Would a Nuclear-Armed Iran Really Be So Dangerous?

Matt Fuhrmann, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Todd S. Sechser, University of Virginia Assistant Professor of Politics (Christian Science Monitor) | Jan 12

One of the biggest surprises to emerge from the ongoing WikiLeaks fiasco is that Arab leaders, including Saudi King Abdullah, have been banging the drums of war, calling for American preventive strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. Yet calls for military force are based on incorrect assertions about what the world would look like if Iran built nuclear weapons.

Advocates of the military option routinely make two claims. The first is that a nuclear-armed Iran would be able to blackmail its neighbors. The second is that other countries would be forced to capitulate to Iran's demands. Both assumptions are wrong.

A close look at the history of the nuclear age shows that countries with nuclear weapons are neither more likely to make coercive threats nor more likely to succeed in blackmailing their adversaries. Nuclear powers such as the United States and the Soviet Union certainly made numerous threats after they acquired nuclear weapons. But so did Libya, Serbia, Turkey, Iraq, Venezuela, and dozens of other countries that did not possess the bomb. Nuclear weapons are not a prerequisite for engaging in military blackmail.

Further, there is scant evidence that possessing the bomb makes coercive threats more successful when they are made. Nuclear weapons did not help the United States compel North Korea to release the USS Pueblo and its crew in 1968. Israeli coercive threats backed by the implicit threat of nuclear war failed against Syria prior to the 1982 Lebanon War, just as British threats against Argentina in 1982 were unable to compel the return of the Falkland Islands, despite Britain's possession of nuclear weapons.

The Nation: Clinton Gets It Wrong On Iran Sanctions

Robert Dreyfuss (NPR) | Jan 12

Intelligently enough, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week during her whirlwind tour of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf -- Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Qatar, Yemen, Oman -- that war with Iran is not a good idea. Saying that she was aware of the "drumbeat" of war talk, most of which is coming from a small minority of neoconservative hardliners, Clinton added, "I think it's very important that we look at how disastrous such a war would be for everyone. And it still is a fact that there is no solution to the problems that beset the area through war. War will not resolve the longstanding concerns."

But [...] the United States is [still] pursuing a sanctions policy that goes far, far beyond what's needed to counteract Iran's ability to purchase technology, materials and equipment for its nuclear program. By cutting off Iran's finances, forcing Western and Asian companies to stop dealing with Iran in areas such as oil, gasoline and petrochemicals, by trying to shut down Iran's oil exports, and so on, the United States is engaged in what can only be called a "regime change" policy. Very few analysts believe that such a policy is productive, and many -- including myself -- believe that it's counterproductive, since it pushes Iran into a corner, inflames the atmosphere for negotiations, and makes it easier for Iran's hardliners to argue that the Great Satan is the cause of Iran's economic woes.

Iran does, indeed, have economic problems, most of which result from economic mismanagement by the Ahmadinejad government, which has purged technocrats from positions of influence and replaced them with loyal stooges whose loyalty is stronger than their competence.

The Effective Iranian Deterrent

Aluf Benn (Haaretz) | Jan 11

Should the history of Israel during the past two years be read [...] as a struggle between the activists who sought the bombing of Iran and the moderates who asked the action be thwarted? The temptation is great.

On the aggressive side of the equation one can find, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Netanyahu considers an Iranian nuclear bomb an existential threat to Israel and the Jewish people. Barak is concerned that Israel will find itself in a strategically inferior position. The political alliance between them has been based since its first day on the joint vision of foiling Iran's nuclear efforts, which would provide Israel with several more years of regional superiority.

On the sides of the moderates were the heads of the defense and intelligence branches: IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Mossad head Dagan, Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin and the head of the Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin.

To all is attributed the view that the Iranian threat is serious but a military strike is not the right way to foil it. In their view, initiating a war will only bring disaster upon Israel.

Meanwhile there is a political problem. Labor is slipping out of the coalition and Netanyahu fears losing Barak from his side. Barak's expected successor in a narrow right wing government will be Moshe Ya'alon, who is considered to be a moderate on Iran. This is why the prime minister is working so hard to keep Labor in the coalition.

Khatami at a Dead End

Ali Afshari (Rooz) | Jan 11

The remarks of Tehran's prosecutor Jaafar Dolatabadi last week washed Mohammad Khatami's hands off and immediately ended the latter's proposed strategy for a return of Iran's reformers to the political scene. In rather crisp words, he interpreted Khatami's "conditions" for political return as his demands and in a way ruled him out by saying that he had lost the historic opportunity to return to the fold of the regime and therefore must stop his activities and get ready to be tried.

Earlier, the sharp remarks that Kayhan's editor had made regarding Khatami's speech to [the] Majlis' minority faction had also revealed the other issues that reformers would face if they wanted to change course and be accepted by the regime.

In view of the events of the Green Movement and the approach that the ruling circles in Iran have regarding the opposition, the strategy of returning to elections that Khatami envisions - regardless of whether it is the right approach or not - has no chance of success.

Kayhan newspaper, whose general policy is in clear line with the policies of the supreme leader accuses Khatami of secretly meeting George Soros whom the sick editor of the daily calls one of the main leaders of the velvet coup in Iran, of being friends with NATO chief Rasmussen and Danish cartoonist who offended Muslims with his cartoons, of grouping with the Mojahedin Khalq armed group in Iraq, with the Bahais, royalists, Marxists, with the Pejvak group during the 2009 turmoil, an instance of Israel's huge capital in Iran, defending Israel on Palestine Day, the burning of a mosque, the murder of Basiji militiamen, and executing the plans prescribed by Soros, Gene Sharp and Richard Rorty to accomplish the velvet revolution in Iran. But Shariatmadari goes even further and in a television program on December 29, 2010 claims that the decision for Iranian reformers to participate in the 2009 presidential election was an American plot which had been planned at Stanford University.

These baseless and laughable assertions which are the normal business of police-like and disinformation-prone Kayhan newspaper, label Khatami with such adjectives that put him in the same soup with groups and individuals that Khatami himself says are the enemies of the revolution and regime!

A Tale of Two Ports

Christophe Jaffrelot, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Studies and Research, Sciences Po/CNRS (Outlook India) | Jan 11

Sino-Indian rivalry in the Indian Ocean and India's naval cooperation with the US draw the world's attention. But quietly, out of sight, a contest has been building in the Arabian Sea cantered between two ports, one based in Pakistan and the other in Iran. The first is backed by China, the second by India. The first, located in Gwadar, is intended to give China access to the Indian Ocean; the second, Chabahar, is supposed to connect India to Afghanistan and counter the first. The two ports represent longstanding rivalries in the region and anticipation for intense geo-strategic competition.

Gwadar, with its proximity to the vital sea lane between the Middle East and China, has strategic importance for China, especially for oil trade. If China wants to emancipate itself from transportation or military problems along Asia's southern coastline, direct access to the Indian Ocean may be the solution.

Direct access to the India Ocean would give China a strategic post of observation and a key location for its navy. While Myanmar and Sri Lanka can offer substantial support, the country that can best help Beijing is Pakistan because of its location and long-time friendship.

India, feeling encircled, reacted to this development. In his recent book on the Indian Ocean, journalist Robert Kaplan writes that "the Indians' answer to Sino-Pakistani cooperation at Gwadar was a giant new $8 billion naval base at Karwar, south of Goa on India's Arabian coast, the first phase of which opened in 2005."

Karwar was only one part of the response to Gwadar. The other one is Chabahar. In 2002 India helped Iran to develop the port of Chabahar, located 72 kilometers west of Gwadar, soon after China began work at Gwadar.


Paulo Coelho's Books Are Banned in Iran

Statement by Editor Arash Hejazi (ArashHejazi.com) | Jan 10

Practicing censorship is happening on a day-to-day basis inside the Minsitry of Culture of Iran. The intriguing fact is that, despite such fierce controls over the printed and online media, the IRI has always denied practising any kind of censorship, especially pre-publication, for books. The implementation of such complex system, aiming to ensure that no unfavoured idea has a chance to reach the public and in the meantime leaving no concrete evidence of such practises, has made it difficult for organisations advocating freedom of expression to create a clear case against these prohibitions, which are also in direct opposition to Iran's international obligations as a member of the UN and a signatory and state party to the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" (ICCPR) that obliges state parties to enforce freedom of expression asserted in Article 19 of the UDHR.

Prepress or pre-publication censorship is not a new concept. However, today Iran is one of the few countries left that still enforces it. No printer is permitted to print a book without first verifying that the book has obtained a Prepublication Permission (PPP). When the publishers decide to publish a book, they have to commission the translation (if necessary), copy-editing, typesetting, cover design and proof­reading and then submit it in the final press-quality PDF format to the Book Department of the Minsitry of Culture and Islamic Guidance MCIG. The publishers are responsible for paying all these origination costs even before they know whether they will receive a PPP for the book.

In the next step, the censors scrutinise the book. If they find no problems, they issue a PPP. If they find some problems, they inform the publisher about modifications needed to be made -- on a piece of paper with neither a letterhead, nor a signature. The publisher has to make the changes and resubmit the book. If it is decided that the book does not "deserve to be published" at all, they declare their decision to the publisher verbally, with no written documents involved.

The decisions of the scrutinisers are not always consistent and depend largely on the taste and individual interpretation of each scrutiniser whose names are never revealed, as "otherwise no scrutiniser would be available to work" (FARDA, 2008).

Any reference to sex, heresy, feminism, supporting religions other than Shiite Islam, mystic or exotic beliefs or even religions such as Buddhism, criticising the government of the IRI, a historical account not compatible with the officially approved history, relationships outside wed-lock, nudity (even in books on history of art), pigs, dogs, alcoholic drinks, defending western democracies and non-orthodox Islamic studies, may be subject to censorship.

Another possible reaction from the MCIG is no response at all (Article 19, 2006). There are books that have been submitted to the Book Department for months and even years with no response from the department, the only answer to the publishers' queries being "the scrutiniser has not yet declared his decision."

Another recent trend has been issuing provisional PPPs that authorise the titles to be printed only once and not reprinted, unless the validity of the permission is extended. This strategy seems to account for keeping the number of new titles published in Iran at a favourable level that enables the government to claim that statistically the number of titles published in Iran is higher than several other countries, and at the same time keeping the number of the readers of certain books to a minimum.

Another possibility is revoking previously issued permissions. The PPPs of hundreds of already published books were revoked by Ahmadinejad's administration, the pretext being, according to Safar Harandi, the Minister of Culture, that a tougher line was needed to stop publishers from serving a "poisoned dish to the young generation" (Tait, 2006a).


'We Still Know Too Little about Tehran's Nuclear Activities'

Interview with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Head Yukiya Amano by Dieter Bednarz (Der Spiegel) | Jan 11

Mr. Director General, according to the diplomatic dispatches made public by WikiLeaks, US diplomats in Vienna described your election as their own "victory" and as a "reinforcement of our influence" on the agency? Did that make you uncomfortable?

My unanimous election ...

... following four previous rounds of voting ...

... was a victory for all member nations. Besides, it isn't necessarily a drawback if the United States believes that my election is in keeping with its interests. My job is to represent the interests of all of our members, be it China, Russia or Nigeria.

And Iran?

Of course I represent the interests of Iran, as long as they involve the civilian use of nuclear energy and Tehran's ambitions serve peaceful purposes.

Do they? Cables from US ambassadors indicate that there is considerable mistrust on the part of Iran's Arab neighbors, for example, who fear that Tehran is secretly building nuclear weapons.

My job is to prevent that from happening. But Iran is a difficult case. We still know too little about Tehran's nuclear activities. And we still don't have answers to all of our questions, which is why we make it clear that Tehran has to cooperate with us more effectively.

In other words, the concerns are justified?

I don't want to speculate about the concerns of others. We deplore the fact that Iran does not inform us in a timely manner. We only learned about the uranium enrichment facility near Qom after satellite images were made public in 2009. The construction of other nuclear plants was not discussed with us ahead of time, but was simply decided upon and announced. We still lack comprehensive information about these plants, which we need if we are to develop trust. The United Nations Security Council's calls for a halt on uranium enrichment are still being ignored.

According to the most recent estimates, Iran is only a year away from building a bomb.

I'm not so sure about that. Despite all unanswered questions, we cannot say that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Because you lack the conclusive evidence, the "smoking gun?"

That's not my choice of words. I'm talking about unanswered questions. What purpose do components for a highly explosive ignition system serve? What are neutron triggers needed for? Are there nuclear developments that suggest a military background? Iran must provide clarity on these issues. That's the point.

Even though you emphasize your impartiality, the relationship between the IAEA and Iran is highly charged. Members of the government in Tehran have berated your inspectors as "spies." In a recent SPIEGEL interview, the previous head of the Iranian nuclear energy agency and the country's new foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, charged that you could forfeit your "legitimacy" due to your "partisanship for certain policies."

Our inspectors in Iran, of which we now have two, are not guilty of anything. We inspect and investigate, all in coordination with the relevant government officials in Tehran. I have since had a personal conversation with Mr. Salehi, and I am in regular contact with the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. I deliberately avoid a sharp tone on the subject of Iran, but I do call attention to grievances.

Shortly after taking office though you reportedly had a long conversation with then chief inspector Olli Heinonen, who recently began teaching at Harvard, in which you pointed out that the tone in the Iran reports had to become tougher.

I don't discuss tones. I'm interested in facts. And I'm also neither a hardliner nor a soft-liner. But if I do have concerns or doubts, I don't keep them to myself. I want to know everything, and I want clarity, no matter which side is applying pressure. Seen in this light, the tone hasn't become tougher but, with all due respect, more direct.

The meeting between Iran and representatives of the global community in Geneva in early December wasn't exactly encouraging. Other than the agreement to conduct further talks, it didn't yield much.

We have to approach each other to bridge the credibility gap. Every step in the process is important. If the Geneva talks enable us to find a solution to problems with the research reactor, perhaps we can also address other areas of conflict.

Meanwhile, the Iranians, despite four rounds of sanctions in the UN Security Council, are continuing to enrich uranium -- to 3.5 percent or, for their research reactor, to as much as 20 percent.

That they are, contrary to all UN resolutions. Iran now has more than 3,103 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, and 33 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium. At least both are completely subject to our monitoring.

But you yourself have not been to Tehran yet.

I would very much like to go to Tehran, but not just to say hello. There has to be a good reason for a visit. If I travel to Tehran, I want to see progress.


Jafar Kazemi's Wife: 'By Executing My Husband, They Will Have Also Executed Our Children and Me'

Interview with Roudabeh Akbari by Masih Alinejad (Rah-e Sabz [Jaras] via Persian2English) | Jan 11

Mrs. Akbari, these days there is news circulating about the executions of some political prisoners on the charges of "Moharebeh through cooperation with and ties to the People's Mujahedin of Iran Organization (PMOI)." Do you have any news of your husband who has been sentenced to death on the [same] charge?

I also heard the news through the media. They haven't said anything to me or to the lawyer. We heard from human rights news sources that the execution of my husband is imminent.

Is there any hope that the news is only a rumour so that there will be more time to pursue the case [and have the death sentence overturned]?

I know that the sentence has not gone to the Execution of Sentences Circuit Court. However, when I met an informed source, she told me that the sentence was sent to the execution of sentences office; however, no decision has been made on the case.

When and how was your last meeting with [Mr. Kazemi]?

I visited my husband yesterday. He told me to "trust in God. Nothing has happened yet." He was in high spirits and said that a prisoner is usually isolated and taken to solitary confinement the night prior to the execution. However, so far, no steps have been taken by the officials that would make me feel the execution is imminent.

How was the trial of your husband? Can you describe briefly his arrest and the court proceeding?

After the 2009 Presidential election, they decided to arrest my husband. My young son lives in Camp Ashraf [where the Mujahedin militants are based] and my husband had gone [to Iraq] to visit him. However, when he returned, they arrested him in Tehran. The agents arrested my husband at 5:00am on Haft Hoz square in Tehran. Then, they took him to his mother's home and searched and ransacked the entire place, but they did not find anything. They asked my mother-in-law, "Do you know that your husband has taken your grandson to Camp Ashraf?" She replied, "What my grandson has done has nothing to do with his father." Then, they came to our home and searched everywhere.

What did they exactly confiscate from your home and the home of your mother-in-law?

Nothing really. They took a series of family videos (CD's). We really did not have anything for them to take or use as evidence. There was no evidence. I had bought a cellphone where I would receive occasional calls from my son so that I, as a mother, could hear and find peace in my child's voice. Now, they say, "You had contacts with the Mujahedin in Ashraf by using this phone. You were taking leads [from the Mujahedin], and you were leading these [post-election] protests and demonstrations." However, there [is no merit for these accusations]. As a mother, I was restless [to have some sort of contact with my son]. After a year, they [the officials] told us to go and retrieve our belongings. I asked them, "Did you give my husband a death sentence based on the family videos?" They told me to trust in God and that nothing will happen, God willing.

What is the specific charge against your husband in the case?

They have levelled 13 charges against my husband. It is absolutely unbelievable. For example, they claim that he was giving leads to students to take part in protests. My husband had no ties with the universities. Another charge is that he provided financial assistance [to the opposition movement], but we are renters ourselves. My husband was a lithograph and the condition of the publishing market was so bad for about eight months that I could tell you that my husband had almost gone bankrupt. How could a person in such a financial state provide financial assistance?

They also accused him of sending the youth to Camp Ashraf. My husband asked them, "Provide one shred of evidence to prove how I was able to do such a thing. With what means and under what conditions [would I have been able to do such a thing?]"

Another charge was having ties with Mujahed friends. What do our relationships with our friends, which are completely in a familial context, have anything to do with organizational activities? In other words, we should not communicate and socialize with anybody? No matter how much we argued, they would not accept [our words] and insisted on their own version [of events].

In your husband's case, did they refer to any specific point about participation in post-election protests?

My husband had no role in the demonstrations and he said this during his interrogations. He, like many others, had stuck posters on walls. Does that [act] carry such a [heavy]sentence? The death sentence does not fit the crime. Even his lawyer stated that, according to [the regime's] own Islamic Republic Constitution, the maximum sentence he can be handed down is six months to one year in jail. However, it seems that this sentence is completely political. There are political motives behind issuing this sentence against my husband.

How were you and your husband treated by the court?

In the court, they treated my husband very badly. I was informed that Judge Moghiseh told my husband, "You should have been executed back in the 1980′s, however, back then, you slipped from our hands, but this time, I will not allow the same to happen and you will not be able to escape [alive]." I told Judge Moghiseh, "Even if I talk to you for hours, you only accept what is in your mind and pay no attention to my words or the defense presented by my husband's lawyer." I wish people would hear our voice and help us so that we can put this crisis behind us. This punishment does not fit the action of my husband. He did not engage in any political activities after being released [in the 90's], and now they are punishing my husband for what my son has done.

Could you describe your husband's activities to inform and enlighten the public?

It was not as though my husband had any specific political activities. He started a family and was busy raising his family. In 1981, he was a member of the Mujahedin, but he had no political activities afterward. He was sentenced to 15 years back then, but after serving nine years, he received a pardon and was released. I do not understand why they came to arrest him again all of a sudden, now that he has no ties to the Mujahedin. He had only gone to Camp Ashraf to visit his son. They should not try the father instead of the son.

What is the reaction of friends, people, and the society that you live in regarding the charges against your husband and the death sentence? and the death sentence for your husband?

When people are informed and find out about our grievances, they offer their sympathy because nobody believes that in the 21st century a political prisoner should be executed, and particularly not on the charge of Moharebeh [Enmity with God]. [The Moharebeh charge is used against people] who have taken up arms. They were not even able to find a pin [as evidence against my husband]. This sentence is inhumane.

Have you had any meetings with authorities and officials to seek their assistance in person?

Whomever we asked [for help] did not listen to us. I ask all the intellectual clerics to stop such sentences. I ask Ayatollah Sanei, Mr. Vahid Khorasani, and all those who are our religious jurisprudences and who people follow [in religious matters] to stop the fundamentalists and tell them that by carrying out such sentences, they only further alienate people. Let us assume that they execute my husband or other political activists; what problems are then solved in the country? Such sentences provide no results and only create an atmosphere of terror, fear, and pessimism among the people.

What is your request from people?

My younger son is not in a good mental and psychological state. He is so restless and worried that he does not let go of me. He looks at my reactions. I swallow my sobs and hold back my tears to not show sadness so my son's mental and psychological state does not [further] deteriorate. But how much strength do we have? We [request] the help of all our compatriots so my husband will not be executed. People ask that if the country is stable, then why are executions carried out? If my husband is executed, they have not just executed one person, they will have executed an entire family. By executing my husband, his children and I will be executed too. It is not fair to execute my husband who was busy with his life and had no political activities only for the political tendencies of my son. Right now, my home phones are under surveillance, and I know my husband's interrogators and the Intelligence agents are hearing my voice. If they have a conscience, [they should] think of how they would like a theocracy to treat them, then they [should] treat my husband the same way.

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