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Guard News Net Claims Ahmadinejad Admin Members in CIA Spy Web

23 May 2011 14:00Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

Press TV image of CIA front lobby. Vice President for Legal Affairs Fatemeh Bodaghi.

2 p.m., 2 Khordad/May 23 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Fars, the news agency controlled by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, reports that there are several high-level government mangers among the 30 people that the Ministry of Intelligence announced were arrested as part of a CIA-controlled spy network. One, a senior official, has been in the government for 25 years. Another worked in the financial sector and supposedly provided information to Western intelligence agencies about how Iran gets around the sanctions that have been imposed on it.

Vice President for Legal Affairs Fatemeh Bodaghi said that the court order barring Vice President for Executive Affairs Hamid Baghaei from employment by the government for four years is not new and was issued last year. She said that the government has appealed the court order. Baghaei, a close confidant of Ahmadinejad's, has been accused of financial irregularities and corruption. Bodaghi also rejected the view of the Guardian Council that Ahmadinejad cannot appoint himself as the acting minister of oil. The council expressed its interpretation of the law after Ahmadinejad made the appointment and such interpretations, according to Bodaghi, cannot be applied retroactively.

Former president Mohammad Khatami renewed his call for the release of all political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran and an end to the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Meeting with a group of young reformists on the occasion of the birthday of Fatemeh, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, Khatami reiterated his conditions for returning the country to a normal state, namely, the release of all the political prisoners, freedom of the press, political groups, and assembly, and completely democratic elections. He also emphasized that the reform movement was and still is against violence, and that eliminating the reformists will not make the spirit of reform disappear. In fact, he said, limiting or eliminating the reformists will create an environment of lies and deception in the country.

One hundred twenty clerics and seminary teachers in Qom have issued a statement calling for an end to the house arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi and their wives, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi. The clerics declare that the ongoing extralegal detention is not in the interest of the nation and undermines its security and stability.

Majles deputy Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a member of the parliament's Budget Commission, proclaimed that the Ahmadinejad administration has violated the law by spending $5 billion on cash handouts in lieu of eliminated subsidies, rather than the budget set aside for such handouts. He said that the Majles is pursuing the matter.

The Majles is considering legislation that would impose sanctions on 26 U.S. officials who have allegedly violated the human rights of the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan, and been involved in terrorism and narcotics trafficking. The bill will be put to a vote on Tuesday.

Two months after the Majles approved the budget for the current Iranian year, which began on March 21, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has still not issued the necessary executive order for the government's organs to began making use of their budgeted funds. By law, the deadline for doing so expires after two months. Majles deputy and Ahmadinejad critic Ahmad Tavakoli demanded that Speaker Ali Larijani directly issue the order, because the deadline has expired. By law, 72 hours after the expiration of the deadline the speaker can directly send the budget to the governmental organizations. However, Aftab News, the website close to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, reports that Ahmadinejad issued the order on Sunday, a day after the deadline's expiration.

In another unusual action, Ahmadinejad nominated Ali Nikzad to head a ministry that does not yet exist. He is supposed to lead the new body that will be created from the merger of the Roads and Transportation Ministry and the Housing Ministry, but the legislation authorizing creation of the new ministry was just submitted to the Majles, and unless and until the parliament approves it, the nomination is meaningless.

Javan, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps mouthpiece, reports that Abbas Amirifar, head of cultural affairs in the office of the president, tried to commit suicide in Evin Prison. Amirifar was recently arrested in connection with the attacks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's supporters on presidential chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Javan referred to Amirfar as "A. Tabar" -- Amirifar's true name is Abbas Tabar.

Melli Mazhabi, website of the Nationalist-Religious Coalition, reports that behind-the-scenes negotiations between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have failed. According to the report, Khamenei formed a three-member committee to study the cuurent situation and demanded that Ahmadinejad appoint Mohammad Forouzandeh as his first vice president, but Ahmadinejad refused. According to the Constitution, if the president dies or is removed from the office, his first vice president assumes the presidency until new elections are held. Forouzandeh, who was defense minister in the second Rafsanjani administration, heads the Veterans Foundation and is a member of the Expediency Discernment Council.

Cleric Naser Saghaye Biria, former adviser to the president for clerical affairs, said that Ahmadinejad's team is opposed to Khamenei and that they want to expel the clerics from the government. According to him, Ahmadinejad and Mashaei want the Supreme Leader to advise rather than to rule, and not to intervene in affairs of state.

On June 10, 2006, an Iranian publishing house signed a contract with Iraq's Ministry of Education to produce 6,197,500 educational books. It was recently discovered that the books refer to the "Arabian Gulf" rather than the Persian Gulf. The issue was brought to the government's attention by workers at the publishing company.

Security forces raided the homes of officials of Azad University -- an online institution for adherents of Baha'i, a faith that is not recognized by the Iranian government -- and removed many documents, computers, books, and other items. Several school officials were arrested, including Shahin Negari, Ramin Zibaei, Kamran Mortezaei, Fouad Moghaddam, Vahid Mokhtari, Mahmoud Badavam, Afrooz Farmanbardari, and Soheil Ghanbari. The government does not allow Baha'is to study in universities.

University activist Habib Farzadi was sentenced to four years and five months of imprisonment and 74 lashes. Four years of the prison term are suspended. Farzadi was arrested after taking part in a memorial for those killed during the 25 Bahman/February 14 demonstrations called for by Mousavi and Karroubi.

Yaser Masoumi, who used to work for several reformist newspapers, was sentenced to five years of imprisonment. He was arrested in March 2010 and spent 70 days in jail. A religious-nationalist political activist, Masoumi was also jailed prior to the 1979 Revolution.

Mansour Osanloo, head of the Bus Drivers Syndicate of Tehran, was transferred from a hospital to Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj. He has been grappling with heart illness for years. He was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to six years of imprisonment.

Parivash Satvati, widow of Dr. Hossein Fatemi -- Mohammad Mosaddegh's foreign minister, who was executed by the Shah's regime in November 1954 -- was released from prison. Satvati, who lives in Britain, returned to Iran two years ago. Ahmadinejad honored her last year in an appeal to Iranians' nationalism. She was recently arrested as part of the crackdown on those connected with Mashaei.

One hundred fifty university professors who teach social sciences and economics are going to be forced into retirement or expelled. Many are well-known academics who have been teaching for years. Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Kamran Daneshjoo said a few months ago that those professors who do not believe in Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist) will either be retired or expelled. Since Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005, many leading academics have been forced from their positions.

Last week's visit by Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to Kuwait has created tensions in that country's parliament. The trip will be one of the points in the grilling of the prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Sabah, that the Development and Reform bloc in the Kuwaiti parliament demanded on Sunday. According to parliament member Waleed al-Tabtabaei, the main point of the grilling is the alleged subversion of Kuwait's relations with other members of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The prime minister will be questioned on the purported attempt to destabilize national security due to the government's lenient attitude toward Iran, as well as the delay in Kuwaiti assistance to Bahrain via the Peninsula Shield Force. Al-Tabtabaei asserted that Salehi's visit is evidence that the premier prefers maintaining ties with Iran rather than the other GCC nations. "We were surprised when Salehi was allowed to visit the country less than 50 days after the issuance of a court verdict against the Iranian spy network. They even discussed the reinstatement of the embassies of both countries as if nothing had happened," he lamented.

Neither Iran nor North Korea has the capacity to build intercontinental ballistic missiles, Vyacheslav Kondrashov, an officer with the Russian general staff, said on Friday. Speaking at a conference devoted to anti-missile defense, Kondrashov said that the two countries have so far been unable to develop a missile capable of reaching the United States or any other NATO country's territory. He said that Iran and North Korea have been developing tactical missiles, but have a long way to go before developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, especially one with a nuclear warhead, and that "judging by Iran's and North Korea's existing capabilities, this is technically unrealizable."

Following the lead of several other European countries, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) of Switzerland announced Friday that Iran's state-owned airliners will not be allowed to refuel at the Geneva airport. FOCA spokesman Anton Kohler said, "The weekly Tehran-Geneva flights have not been cancelled, but IranAir should get fuel from other countries such as Serbia." The Geneva Fueling Services Company, which is responsible for supplying fuel for the airport, confirmed the report, saying that it has had no trade relations with IranAir since late April. However, FOCA said that the company was consulting with Switzerland's Foreign Affairs Ministry and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs to find a "pragmatic solution" to the situation.

Bank Mellat of Iran is currently unable to operate in Turkey, the head of the bank's Turkish unit, Younes Hormozi, said. Due to U.S. pressure, all Turkish banks have cut their ties to it. Stuart Levey, the U.S. Treasury Department's top financial intelligence official, said earlier this month that Turkish banks which persist in dealing with local branches of the blacklisted bank were risking American sanctions. Hormozi said that Bank Mellat's activities have been legal and that it did not plan to exit the Turkish market.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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