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Two 'MKO Terrorists' Hanged for Taking Pictures; Far Right Gunning for Mashaei?

24 Jan 2011 15:37Comments

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.



Iran Executes 2 MKO Terrorists

Press TV | Jan 24

Iran has executed two members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group who had carried out activities against the Islamic Republic in liaison with agents in Britain.

The two terrorists, Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aqaei, were hanged on Monday for distributing placards and photos of the terrorist group, making videos and images during the post-election unrest in Iran in 2009 and chanting slogans in favor of the MKO, IRNA reported.

Haj Aqaei had confessed that he traveled to and stayed in Camp Ashraf, MKO's headquarters and training site in the Iraqi province of Diyala, for months.

He also admitted that he once received 3,000 US dollars from the MKO and attended training courses.

He was also arrested 29 years ago on charge of providing financial support to the MKO.

Haj Aqaei had traveled to Iraq many times and intended to stay in the MKO headquarters but had been rejected due to his old age.

The other executed member, Kazemi, had links with MKO leaders inside Iran and collected financial aid for the terrorist group. He had also transferred his son to Iraq.

He had confessed that he took videos and photos from Iran's post-election violence and conducted interviews with MKO members in Camp Ashraf.

Iran Hangs Two Activists Held in 2009 Poll Unrest

AFP | Jan 24

Iran hanged on Monday two political activists held during the 2009 presidential election unrest, state media reported, despite a plea by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their release.

State television's website, quoting the Tehran prosecutor's office, named the pair as Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei. It did not say where the two men were hanged.

"Two elements of the Monafeghin (hypocrites) cell named Jafar Kazemi...and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei...were executed early today," the prosecutor's office said, referring to the Iranian exiled opposition group, People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI).

On August 10, Clinton had urged the Iranian authorities to release the two activists.

Political Prisoners Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj-Aghaei Executed

RAHANA | Jan 24

Kazemi was arrested on September 18th [2009] during a post-election protest and was later sentenced to death for anti-regime propaganda by waging war against God and collaborating with the MKO.

Executed Political Prisoner's Wife: They Didn't Inform Me or His Lawyer

ICHRI | Jan 24

In a telephone interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Jafar Kazemi's wife said that when she went to visit her husband at Evin Prison a few hours ago, she was informed that he had been executed earlier this morning. "They executed him without informing us or his lawyer. They took my husband last week and asked him to give a [television] interview. The interrogator told him 'whether or not you give an interview, you will be executed in less than a week.' My husband did not agree to give the interview. They took him from there to the Sentence Implementation Unit, where they put a noose around his neck, but then they changed their mind and returned him [to his cell]. This is supposed to have been a miracle," Roudabeh Akbari told the Campaign.

"This morning we went to visit with him. We filled out a [visitation request] card, too. But they came back and told us that they had hanged him. They said 'If we want to give you his body, we will call you. Go and take it easy. It's all finished now.' Of course, that's if they want to give his corpse to us. Because in the case of Mr. Saremi, they took the body and buried it. It is very likely that they may want to do the same thing with my husband," said Jafar Kazemi's wife.

"Please, I only ask you to tell the world what kinds of criminals and felons they are. Let the world know. How long does the world want to wait? How long do you want to issue statements and put up with them? Can you hear me?" said Roudabeh Akbari.

"They hanged him at 4:00 a.m., because they perform [the executions] early in the morning. They had no evidence, only a few photographs or videos taken and sent during the post-election gatherings. Is the punishment for this the death penalty? According to their own Constitution...punishment for someone who propagates against the regime is one to six years in prison. Look at the sentences they have been handing out. But God is great and he is up there, and he will seek my and my children's revenge," said the political prisoner's wife.

See also: "Two More Baseless Death Sentences for Protesters" (Green Voice of Freedom) | "The Judge Told My Husband Jafar Kazemi: 'We Should Have Executed You Back in the 1980′s'" (CHRP via Persian2Rnglish) | "Death Sentence Upheld for Political Prisoner Jafar Kazemi" (RAHANA) | "Jafar Kazemi's Wife: 'By Executing My Husband, They Will Have Also Executed Our Children and Me'" (Rah-e Sabz via Persian2Rnglish) | "Two Post-elections Political Prisoners Hanged" (ICHRI)


Plots to Eliminate Ahmadinejad's Advisors -- Behdad

Uskowi on Iran | Jan 23

Mohammad Jafar Behdad, Deputy for Political Affairs at the Office of the President, told the weekly gathering of Tehran's Voaz Valie on Wednesday that President Ahmadinejad has become the target of the extreme right. Behdad accused Ahmadinejad's opponents of plotting to physically eliminate his inner circle advisors, such as his chief of staff Eskandar Rahim Mashaie. Behdad identified people associated with the influential conservative newspaper Kayhan as leading the campaign against Ahmadinejad and the elimination of his close advisors [Mashregh from ISNA, 23 January].

Reports on the tense relationship between Ahmadinejad's inner circle and the fundamentalist groups have been circulating in Tehran for sometime. But this is the first time that a high-ranking official of Ahmadinejad's office has accused the president's fundamentalist opponents of plotting to physically eliminate his advisors, and Mashaie in particular.

See also: "A Haus for the Islamic Republic" (Tehran Bureau) | "Get Behind Mashaei" (Tehran Bureau) | "The Political Craft of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 2: The Great Balancing Act" (Tehran Bureau) | "Iranian Voices: The Drama of Mashaei" (Tehran Bureau)



President Nominates Salehi as Foreign Minister

Mehr | Jan 23

The parliament has received a letter by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nominating acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as the foreign minister, announced Hossein Sobhaninia of the Majlis presiding board.

"President's letter nominating Salehi as foreign minister was received today and read out at the Majlis open session," MP Sobhaninia said on Sunday.

On January 11, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had said that appointment of Salehi as foreign minister is close to certain.

Now Salehi should win the parliamentarians' vote of confidence.

The analysts believe that the Majlis will most probably vote Salehi into office.

According to Press TV, Mehmanparast said on Saturday, "Our understanding is that lawmakers as well as the Foreign Ministry staff have very positive views toward him (Salehi)."

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also said that Majlis will examine Salehi's records next week.

Iranian FM Due in Syria for Further Consultations on Lebanon, Bilateral Ties

Fars | Jan 23

Iranian Foreign Ministry Caretaker Ali Akbar Salehi is on his way to Syria to discuss bilateral ties as well as the latest developments in the region, Lebanon in particular.

Iran has intensified diplomatic moves to find a solution to the political disputes in Lebanon.

Last Monday, Salehi held talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, examining the latest developments in the region particularly the Lebanon crisis.

During the meeting, the senior Iranian diplomat said it is Iran's principled policy to back stability in Lebanon.

Lebanon has been the scene of a political crisis triggered by the US-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, who was murdered in February 2005, along with 22 other people, in a massive bombing attack in downtown Beirut.

The US-sponsored tribunal is reportedly about to indict some Hezbollah members in the Hariri murder case -- an allegation which has been vehemently rejected by the Lebanese resistance movement.

Iran and Syria Use Hizbollah to Seize Influence over Lebanon

Telegraph | Jan 23

Iran and Syria moved on Sunday to seize back influence in Lebanon with talks in Damascus over the political crisis.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's acting foreign minister, flew to Syria to meet Bashar al-Assad, the president. It was officially acknowledged that the two were discussing Lebanon as their protégé, the militant and political group Hizbollah, grows more confident that it will be able to name the next prime minister.

Hizbollah's growing clout was on show as its leader Hassan Nasrallah delivered a television address last night. He appears increasingly confident that Hizbollah would soon gain the parliamentary numbers needed to name a new prime minister of its choosing. At the end of last week Hizbollah gained the vital backing of Walid Jumblatt, the leader of Lebanon's Druze minority.

'STL President Supported MKO'

Press TV | Jan 23

President of the US-sponsored Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) Antonio Cassese had called for the US and Europe's widespread support for the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group, a report says.

Addressing a conference, dubbed "In Search of Justice, European Committee for De-listing the MKO" held in 2008, Cassese said the terrorist group should benefit from judiciary immunity, Fars news agency reported on Sunday.

Cassese is expected to issue a verdict at the STL -- created two years after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and more than 20 others with him in Beirut on February 2005.

The tribunal, supported by the US, has sparked tension and plunged Lebanon into its worst political crisis since 2008.

Terrorist Bombings in Karbala Kill Six Pilgrims

Fars | Jan 24

At least six civilians were killed and 15 others were wounded in two bomb blasts in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala this morning.

Officials said a car bomb went off in a parking lot in the Ibrahimiyah neighborhood in Eastern Karbala. The place was filled with buses that carried pilgrims to the Shiite shrine city South of Baghdad.

Shiite pilgrims have flocked by thousands to Karbala and Najaf to commemorate the Arba'een mourning ceremonies.

Monday's bomb explosions follow a wave of violence across war-wrecked Iraq in recent days.

Eight Iranian pilgrims were wounded when a car bomb hit a busload of Iranian pilgrims in Kadhimiyah, a Northern neighborhood in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, on Sunday.

MP: G5+1 States Will Return to Talks

IRNA | Jan 23

A member of Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Heshmatollah Fallahatpisheh, said on Sunday that the G5+1 representatives have to return to the negotiating table because Iran is a key player in the region.

"G5+1 countries are embarrassed because of Iran's active approach in Istanbul talks on January 21-22 and proposing to resolve the regional issues through cooperation on the basis of common stances," he added.

Fallahatpisheh pointed out that Iran's new stance means that it can play a more important role in the region.

Referring to the fact that Iran has adopted a rational stance in the negotiations with G5+1 and its peaceful nuclear activities, he said that Iran has exposed its nuclear program to the international community which shows its capability and the irreversible nature of its nuclear activities.

Iranian Police Sets Up Cyber Force

Fars | Jan 23

Iran's Cyber Police started its work today to prevent espionage and sabotage activities through the internet, a police official announced on Sunday.

"The Cyber Police can prevent espionage and sabotage in Information Technology (IT) tools," Head of the Information Production and Exchange Department of the Law Enforcement Police General Seyed Kamal Hadianfar said.

Hadianfar reiterated that IT tools play an undeniable role in political, security, economic, trade, ethical and religious rivalries at the national and international levels.

A statement issued by Tehran's Public and Revolutionary Court [in March 2010] said that following a series of complicated security operations in [the] area of information and communication technology, the country's security forces [...] identified the most important US-backed organized networks of cyber war launched by the anti-revolutionary groups and arrested 30 suspects.

The statement added that the networks received US aid and served Washington through such anti-revolutionary groups as the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), monarchist groups and a number of other opposition groups.

It further said that Washington provided such anti-Islamic Republic groups and networks with 70 million US-made anti-filtering software only during the recent demonstrations in Tehran in a bid to help them wage a psychological war against the Iranian nation and government.

Cyber Police Launched

Iran Daily | Jan 24

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the new force, Brigadier General Kamal Hadianfar said the growth and influence of the Internet is indicative of the people's rapidly growing tendency toward cyberspace, but information technology entails both threats and opportunities.

According to the general, "Cyber police abides by eight rules in its missions. In Iran, the reason behind nearly 80 percent of cyber crimes is money, 13 percent immoral considerations, two percent entertainment and curiosity and three percent personal vendetta."

He emphasized that the complete mission of FATA Police is to safeguard religious identity and ensure the security of cypberspace.

Afghan Official: No More Fuel Trucks Stuck in Iran

AP (via Bloomberg) | Jan 24

An Afghan official says hundreds of tanker fuel trucks have crossed the border from Iran after being blocked in the neighboring country for nearly a month.

Farid Shirzai, head of the Commerce Ministry's fuel department, says more than 200 trucks crossed into Afghanistan on Monday. Iran fully opened its borders following a Jan. 18 deal and the first trucks started crossing soon afterward.

Shirzai says no more trucks are now stuck in Iran.

Gasoline Consumption Down by 5%

Uskowi on Iran | Jan 23

The National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) announced today that the consumption of gasoline in the country during the Iranian calendar month ending 21 January was at 56 million liters. The figure compares to 59 million liters for the same period last year, or a 5% reduction in consumption in the first full month after the start of the subsidy reforms.

The subsidized gasoline price of 100 toumans a liter was replaced by a semi-subsidized price of 400 toumans a liter with a cap of 60 liters per vehicle per month. The disappointing meager reduction in consumption reported by NIORDC is probably because people were still using their old 100-touman allocations until they run out of them, something they are entitled to do. Observers expect the consumption level to go down dramatically when the use of the new semi-subsidized gasoline begins to constitute at least 75% of all consumptions, possibly within the next two months.

Iran's Petchem Exports to Europe to Hit $2b

Mehr | Jan 23

The managing director of Iran Petrochemical Commercial Company Reza Hamzehlou stated that Iran's petrochemical exports value to European countries will hit $2 billion by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2011).

The official said 37 percent of the exported petrochemical products from Iran go to customers in the Far East, including China, 25 percent to the Middle East, 11 percent to Europe, 18 percent to the Indian subcontinent, seven percent to Southeast Asia and Oceania, and 1.2 percent to Africa.

"Currently China and India are our biggest buyers," he claimed.

Iran currently produces 25.8 percent of petrochemical products of the Middle East and 2.4 percent of the global output.


Political Activist Saeid Haeri Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison

RAHANA | Jan 23

Saeid Haeri, political and civil rights activist and Committee for Human Rights Reporters member, has been sentenced to 2 years in prison.

He had previously been sentenced to 2 years in prison and 74 lashes for disturbing public order and assembly and collusion by the 26th branch of the Revolutionary Court.

He was released on a $100,000 bail in March after 80 days in prison. He had been arrested along with Shiva Nazar-Ahari and Kouhyar Goodarzi.

Haeri is a philosophy student at the Northern Branch of Azad University in Tehran. He was a member of Karoubi's Campaign during the presidential elections.

Three Attorneys Sentenced to Prison Following the Complaint by Intelligence Ministry

RAHANA | Jan 23

Farshid Yadollahi and Amir Eslami, who were lawyers for many of the cases related to the dervishes in Kish Island, have been sentenced to 6 months in prison for disturbing public opinion and libel while their clients have been acquitted of their charges. Mostafa Daneshjou had also been sentenced to 7 months in prison which has been upheld by the Mazandaran appeals court.

The 3 lawyers had filed a complaint against the unlawful behavior of the Intelligence Ministry authorities. However, not only their lawful complaint was ignored but they were eventually convicted themselves.

Farshid Yadollahi and Amir Eslami are members of the Human Rights Commission of the Iranian Bar Association and Mostafa Daneshjou was disbarred along with Omid Behrouzi while defending the rights of dervishes.

Foreign Experts to Discuss "Hollywoodism" at Iranian Filmfest

Mehr | Jan 23

Foreign guests invited to Fajr film festival will be discussing the impact of Hollywood in the world of cinema.

Organizers of the Fajr International Film Festival are holding a conference entitled "Hollywoodism and Cinema" on the sidelines of the event on February 6 and 7, Culture Ministry official Gholamreza Montazemi said in a press conference held on Sunday.

French actor and political activist famous for his anti-Zionist attitudes Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, American documentary filmmaker Abdullah Hashem, and French director and screenwriter Mathieu Kassovitz are among the invited guests who will be taking part in the conference, he added.

The conference will be held on different themes including Zionism and Hollywood, terrorism and Hollywood, Hollywood and Satanism and the American lifestyle in Hollywood.

Sudan Seeking Iran's Assistance in Reforming Cinema Industry

Fars | Jan 23

Sudan's Minister of Culture El Samawa'al Khakafallah al-Quraish asked Iran to help Sudan reform its cinema industry.

The minister pointed to the weak financial backup for his country's cine industry, and said that Khartoum plans to increase role of the cinema in Sudan by reforming the county's laws.

He called on Iran and other countries with strong cinema industries to set up companies active in different fields, including production, light, sound, animation, direction and acting, in his Northeast African state.

Quraish further stressed his country's resolve to move in this field, adding that Sudan is also determined to produce documentary films about its intact nature.


Sundance Review: 'Circumstance'

James Greenberg (Hollywood Reporter) | Jan 23

"Circumstance" is an amazingly accomplished and complex first feature from Iranian-American writer-director Maryam Keshavarz.

Drawing on some of her own experiences, she has created an insiders look at a world few of us will ever get to see. The political, sexual and religious labyrinth of Iran today feels at once contemporary and utterly foreign. Told with a modern rhythm and propulsive soundtrack, it's a compelling story that should attract both a young and older audience of culturally curious moviegoers.

Keshavarz's looking glass is a liberal, well-to-do family in Teheran, and in particular 16-year-old Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and her less privileged friend Shireen (Sarah Kazemy), whose parents were likely executed as dissidents. As any girls their age, they are testing the bonds of friendship and their sexual attraction for each other, made even more complicated by a repressive society that has little regard for women. They act out their rebellion by taking drugs and partying in hip-looking underground clubs, but their only real escape is through their imagination. Life is so stifling in Iran that they picture themselves running off to the relative freedom of Dubai.

All of Atafeh's family has been affected by the totalitarian regime. Her once progressive, Berkeley-educated father Firouz (Soheil Parsa) is nostalgic for his glory days while compromising in the present. Her mother Azar (Nasrin Pakkho) is a successful surgeon but nonetheless reminds her daughter that we have to accept the reality we live in. Most damaged of all is her brother Mehran (Reza Sixo Safai). A crack addict recently released from jail, he is desperately looking for a way to fit in to society and not surprisingly turns to religion.

See also: "'Circumstance': Schedule and Details" (Sundance Festival)

Sundance Review: 'The Green Wave'

Kirk Honeycutt (Hollywood Reporter) | Jan 22

"The Green Wave," a documentary about the "Green" explosion following the 2009 presidential election in Iran and the government's violent response, is intriguing but for the wrong reasons.

The film's Iranian writer-director Ali Samadi Ahadi lives in Germany and the Western media has been tossed out by Iran's hard-line Islamic regime so the film is constructed not out of the news footage and on-the-spot reporting but rather through animation, video posts, Facebook and Twitter messages.

It's a scrappy, highly adventurous approach that for the most part works well. What is disappointing is how little new information there is here for anyone who has followed news reports and, yes, various social networks in 2009. The movie is more an illustration of what you already knew about the groundswell of support garnered by presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi and the increasingly repressive dictatorship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The film is certain to get considerable festival play, especially now that festival directors realize there is little risk in offending the Iranian government, which has severely cracked down on its own once thriving cinema.

See also: "'The Green Wave': Schedule and Details" (Sundance Festival)

Iran Nuke Talks Follow-Up: So Why Did the Istanbul Discussions Collapse?

Scott Lucas (Enduring America) | Jan 24

Yesterday I posted an analysis, "How the US Media Missed the Important Story", which sought to highlight a key reason for the failure of this weekend's talks on uranium enrichment between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China, Germany) -- the 5+1's proposal for "third-party enrichment", with more than 90% of Tehran's uranium stock leaving the country, was much tougher than what it put on the table in the discussions of October-November 2009.

Scott Peterson of The Christian Science Monitor, whom I mentioned in the analysis, has offered us an important follow-up:

European diplomats gave rough details of the updated fuel swap proposal they put to the Iranians. They said it would require Iran to remove the bulk of Iran's LEU (presumably including that enriched to 19.75%), to leave behind the same amount of LEU that would have been left if the original Oct. 2009 deal had been agreed; ie, less than the amount that could technically be enriched further and turned into a single bomb.

Diplomats said the Iranian side listened intently, but had nothing to say about it except to steer talks back to the preconditions. It appears that the Iranians did not offer a counter-proposal. And it was not clear if the European proposal I describe above was just one of several options put on the table. Also not clear are what, precisely, [the head of the 5+1 delegation] Catherine Ashton meant when she spoke about "ways to improve transparency through IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] monitoring measures".

Peterson, who is also the author of the study of Iran, Let the Swords Encircle Me, adds, "Those actual details didn't make it into many stories because they appeared not to be the determining factor in the talks on the day."

In other words, for many observers, the key to the talks was that the Iranians had opened the talks by setting two pre-conditions: acknowledgement of Iran's right to enrich uranium and the removal of sanctions. Any proposal by the 5+1 was irrelevant until those pre-conditions were put aside.

Peterson's point is important, although it still does not quite meet my original objection: even if the 5+1 proposal was not as significant for journalists as the Iranian position, failing to mention it gives the misleading impression in their stories that the collapse of the talks was one-sided.

Which leads me to the substantial argument:

Accepting that the Iranians had put forward a difficult barrier with their two preconditions, isn't this proposal a non-starter as well? Tehran is being asked to give up 90% of its low-enriched stock and almost all/all of its 19.75% stock. Given that President Ahmadinejad was unable to get domestic support for a deal for 60% of LEU in Nov. 2009 (and then there was no issue of 19.75% uranium), I can't see how anyone could believe this is a viable deal.

Put more concisely: "There does not seem to have been any point in either side showing up, given these entrenched positions."

Why Could Tunisia Do What Iran Cannot?

Mahmood Delkhasteh (Huffington Post) | Jan 23

Farid Aichoune, a Tunisian journalist, wrote of the recent protests that "as in Iran last year, protesters set meeting places and exchanged information using social networks, less controllable, such as Facebook. That's when the movement takes on a scale with calls for a general strike, and especially the termination of the regime" (Le Nouvel Observateur, 13-19 January 2011). The question is, how has this Iranian model, which set an example to the Tunisians, so far failed to achieve its goal of deposing the despot as the Tunisian movement did?

Many reformists would argue the answer lies in the strength and brutality of Iranian security forces. This is wrong. Given the ratio of population in regard to casualties during the unrest, many more Tunisian has been killed than Iranians.

The answer should thus perhaps be sought by identifying the contradictory dynamics created in the movements. The protests in Iran began with a high level of participation, to the extent that in the first week of the protests, in Tehran alone, over three million people turned out. This gradually fizzled out. In Tunisia this pattern was reversed, as the protests started with a relatively low level of participation, but gradually became more widespread.

One way to explain this difference is through examining the leadership of both. The diverse leadership of the protests in Tunisia has been, from beginning to end, located outside of the regime. All its groups and leaders were thus challenging the structure itself. The reverse was true in Iran, where the political movement began as a response to the electoral coup, in which Mousavi (in his own words a conservative reformist, eslaah talabe osoolgeraa, and loyal to the regime and its founder ayatollah Khomeini) was usurped of his vote.

Update on Internet Censorship in Iran

Phobos (Tor Blog) | Jan 20

Here's a quick update on what we're seeing from Tor clients in Iran. This is an update to https://blog.torproject.org/blog/new-blocking-activity-iran. It appears that one of the five Iranian ISPs is experimenting in blocking censorship circumvention tools; such as Tor, Freegate, Ultrasurf, and Hot Spot Shield. There have been reports that this update to censorship technologies was coming soon, https://www.azadcyber.info/articles/1560.

Previously, we had data suggesting that ssl-connections were being throttled or experiencing a forced reduced-throughput. It seems this is no longer the case. A simple IP address access list is used to stop access to the public Tor nodes, as well as many Tor bridges.

In a short few months, Iran has vastly improved the sophistication of their censorship technologies. Right now, the best option is to use tor through open socks/https proxies. A risk is the open proxies can see you are using tor, but cannot see the traffic passing through the open proxy, for everything is wrapped in layers of encryption by Tor. However, it appears the Iranian Potato Wall can detect Tor or not in any case by analyzing the traffic on the wire. We have reports this is true for other circumvention tools as well.



Wife of Saeed Malekpour: 'Wherever We Go, the IRGC Casts Its Long Shadow'

Interview with Fatemeh Eftekhari by Masih Alinejad (Rah-e Sabz [Jaras] via Persian2English) | Jan 23

On January 22nd, Saeed Malekpour was taken to branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Moghiseh, for the trial pertaining to his second case file with the charges "Agitating the public mind" and "Collusion with his wife to act against national security". Neither Saeed Malekpour's family or lawyer were informed of the trial, thus he had no representation in the court. As a result, Saeed Malekpour refused to defend himself during the trial and insisted that his lawyer must be present. Judge Moghiseh has given Saeed Malekpour one week to inform his lawyer to arrive in branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. However, Saeed Malekpour is unable to directly inform his lawyer since he is still held in a solitary confinement cell in ward 2-A of Evin prison (the ward is controlled by the IRGC).

Saeed Malekpour, according to his wife Fatemeh Eftekhari, received a death sentence after spending two years in temporary detention and a state of legal limbo.

Earlier, in an open letter to Sadegh Larijani, the Judiciary Chief [of the Islamic Republic of Iran], Fatemeh Eftekhari wrote: "Through a conversation that the lawyer had with Judge Moghiseh, he discovered that the sentence in mind for Saeed Malekpour is death."

Saeed Malekpour who studied Metallurgy Engineering at Sharif Technical University is a Permanent Resident of Canada. In a letter from prison he described the tortures he endured and the methods [used by interrogators] to extract [hours of] confessions from him. He stated that he was forced under torture to make the self-incriminating confessions.


Mrs. Eftekhari, how do you feel these days when you hear about the recent death sentences being carried out?

My entire body and soul feels the pain when a compatriot is executed. It does not make a difference whether (s)he is known or unknown. It is really appalling. I have read the letter Mr. Saremi's daughter [wrote to her father who was executed on December 28, 2010], and I cry every single time [when I read that Mr. Saremi] chanted "O Hussein" before being executed...]. The martyrs that were killed in the Iran-Iraq war ran into the mine fields also shouting "O Hussein!" Our parents did not fight and resist to end up with an Islamic regime of this nature. How can officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran read these letters [by the families of political prisoners] and not die of shame?

How were you and your husband informed of the death sentence issued to him?

The sentence was issued to Saeed on November 30th; 40 days after the last court session. However, the lawyer was informed on December 4th and he still has not received the official announcement of the sentence. They have not given him the official [sentence] papers; they only allowed him to write it down [as notes]. This is a ridiculous and shameful process. As an Iranian, I felt embarrassed when I had to explain all this to a Canadian lawyer. Interestingly, at first, the Canadian lawyer thought such processes and treatments are based on the Islamic penal laws, and he was glad that Canada is not an Islamic country! Is this how authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran want to export Islam and the Revolution to the world?

Why did you leave Iran? I heard it was upon your husband's request, is that correct?

Yes, it was upon Saeed's insistence that I returned to Canada. They made Saeed give and sign many false confessions by threatening to arrest me. We were hoping that by me returning to Canada, his situation would improve.

Can you briefly describe your husband's conditions in prison? Given that you were residing in Canada, did you ever consider the possibility that your husband would be arrested during his trip back to Iran?

Saeed has spent over 27 months in Evin prison. He went to Iran in August 2008 to visit his family and ailing father. Three days after his arrival, he was arrested. It never crossed our mind that he could be arrested because we had not done anything [illegal], nor did we have any activities to be concerned about. I still cannot understand the way officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have behaved toward Saeed's case. How could they present a computer programmer as the director of an obscene [pornographic] website? How could they play with the lives of individuals, the elites of the country, under the pretext of expediency of the regime?


Wife of Abdolreza Ghanbari: 'Don't Let Them Execute an Unknown Teacher!'

Interview with Sakineh Habibi by Masih Alinejad (Rah-e Sabz [Jaras] via Persian2English) | Jan 24

Abdolreza Ghanbari is an unknown teacher who was arrested in the wake of the Ashura protests at the location where he teaches. He was then sentenced to death by Judge Salavati in branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on the charge of "Moharebeh through ties with hostile groups [against] the regime". Possession of suspicious e-mails and contact with one of the TV stations outside Iran were cited as reasons [to justify] the charges.

Abdolreza Ghanbari's wife and mother of two, Sakineh Habibi said, "The fate of my husband is not important to anybody, because he is not a member of any political party or organization. He is on death row and no individual, political, or cultural institution is following up on his case, and no action is being taken to stop his death sentence.

She added, "Even though nobody replies to our inquiries, I have no choice but to keep my hope alive and try to save the life of my husband and loving father for the sake of my children; for the sake of my ten year old daughter. I request from everyone to not allow a cultural activist and an unknown teacher be executed for the crime of being alone and not having anyone [of influence around]."

[Masih Alinejad, on behalf of] Jaras has conducted a phone interview with Sakineh Habibi who was asked about her family's ordeal in the past year, her follow up attempts, her visits with the Iranian authorities, and the latest condition of her husband on death row:


Your husband was arrested after Ashura and was sentenced to death. Do you have any news on your husband?

The source of news for us is the weekly prison visits. Since May, when the death sentence was confirmed, the mood during the visits has been different. In the visits, he says that [although] he did not do anything, the circumstances are such that they issued the death sentence [anyway].

What was the main reason behind his arrest, and could you please describe how he was arrested?

They have not stated the actual reason behind the arrest, but one of the reasons they gave was his presence on the streets during the Ashura protests. They arrested him [later] at the [school] where he teaches.

Has he been asked questions during his interrogation about his participation in the Ashura protests?

When they asked my husband about this matter, he answered very honestly, "Yes, my daughter and I were out on that day." What can a person do when accompanied by a child? Can someone commit "security" acts with a child? On that day, he was out only during the morning. They claim he was out at noon. However, at noon, my husband was home. And we even have witnesses who saw my husband along with my daughter on our street before noon.

Did the court listen to you or the statements of the witnesses you just referred to?

No, the court never asked us to present our witnesses. They told my husband, "You were present that day at noon on the street where clashes occurred." However, my husband had only passed through the location of the clashes in the morning. Based on that, they convicted him.

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