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After Evin: US Hikers' Readjustment Begins; Underage Killer Executed

22 Sep 2011 16:20Comments

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 Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

FattalBauerSept21.jpg4:20 p.m., 31 Shahrivar/September 22 While the families of American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal celebrate their release after more than two years of imprisonment in Iran, their readjustment to freedom may be a lengthy and difficult process. Scott Johnson of the Oakland Tribune reports,
"They've been in prison for such a long time, it would be surprising if they weren't suffering from trauma," said Francine Shapiro, a psychotherapist and expert on trauma care for victims of war, terrorism and kidnappings. [...]

[A]nything that reminds them of their captivity could become what psychologists call a "trigger," or something that takes them back to their time in Iran's Evin prison and reignites the experience. [...]

By most accounts, Evin ranks as one of the world's loneliest and scariest prisons. Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek correspondent who was detained at Evin for 118 days in 2009, was routinely beaten by professional torturers, called "specialists," and came to fear the sound of other cell doors opening because it signaled the arrival of a torturer.

Sarah Shourd, Bauer's fiancee and former prisonmate at Evin, also recounted how her jailers took her clothes and her glasses, and questioned her relentlessly for many of her 410 days in captivity.

"It's hard for me to go back and think about life as it was before," she recounted in The Daily Beast, an online news magazine. "I'm a changed person."


Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Alireza Molla Soltani, the young man convicted of murdering Ruhollah Dadashi, two-time titlist as "Iran's Strongest Man," was executed on Wednesday. He was 17 years and ten months old at the time of the execution. He had confessed to murdering Dadashi on July 16, in Karaj, west of Tehran. Before and after he was killed by the state, many international human rights organizations protested the sentence. Ali Rezvan Manesh, a representative of the prosecutor, said that Molla Soltani was over 18 years old, if his age were computed based on the lunar calendar that is used in almost all Islamic countries -- Iran, however, uses a solar calendar. Iran has averaged two executions per day in 2011, placing it second only to China, whose population is almost 18 times greater. It was reported that before he was put to death, Molla Soltani was weeping and calling for his mother.

Asre Iran, a hardline website, criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an editorial for not paying enough attention to the plight of Iranians who have been imprisoned in the United States. Eleven Iranian citizens are in U.S. prisons, mostly for violating the laws that govern export of military and dual-use items to Iran. Asre Iran said that now that the two American hikers who were incarcerated in Iran have been released, Ahmadinejad should bring up the issue of Iranian prisoners in the United States.

Influential Majles deputy Hamid Reza Katouzian declared, "There has recently been a new opinion among some political experts that, given that Iran has a leader of such stature as the Supreme Leader, there is no need for a president." He added, "The country's highest executive can be a prime minister chosen by the Majles. This view should be considered because it will increase the responsiveness of the executive branch to the people's representatives [in the Majles].... The view that the office of the president should be replaced by that of a prime minister is currently under study by some of the deputies that have higher political credibility."

In an interview with ABC, Ahmadinejad told Christiane Amanpour that "it was the United States that ended its diplomatic relations with Iran [in April 1980]. We believe that there is no reason for tension between our two nations. We are ready to begin discussion in respectful and just conditions." When asked how Iran evaluates recent developments in the Middle east, Ahmadinejad responded, "Iran believes that freedom, justice, and the right to freely vote belong to all nations and are human rights, and also believes that the nations and the states should solve their problems together without outside interference." He added, "All the world's dictators are supported by the United States and some European countries, and dictatorship and hegemony are linked together and against the rights of nations, which must be changed." Regarding the situation in Syria, Ahmadinejad said, "Iran has the same view about all nations, and considers justice and free choice as the rights of all nations. The governments and the nations must work together in order to carry out the necessary reforms. But, others must not intervene in it." Pointing out that U.S. policy regarding Bahrain and Yemen is completely different from its stance vis-à-vis Syria, he noted, "Unfortunately, some countries and groups that are close to the United States are sending weapons to [the opposition in] Syria. Undoubtedly, not only will this not improve the situation, but will also make it more complex." He said that Iran is trying to mediate between the Syrian government and certain elements in the opposition, adding, "The United States and its allies must not think that creating tension in the region the future will be along their interest, because the developments in the region does not like the U.S. hegemony and [therefore] it is better if the U.S. is side by side with these nations." Regarding recent statements by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Ahmadinejad said, "The United States has been active against the Iranian nation for decades and has done what it can. It is wrong to threaten Iran, because the Iranian nation will give a powerful and firm response."

In the interview, Ahmadinejad also claimed that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are free and "going about their daily lives." When asked about the statement by Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi that Mousavi and Karroubi may be put on trial, Ahmadinejad responded, "I do not intervene in the judiciary. What he has said may also have been mistranslated. But if this were to happen, it would have happened a year ago."

Regarding the house arrest of the leaders of the Green Movement, reformist Majles deputy Mohammad Reza Tabesh said in a speech in parliament, "Is it fair that some of the best and most pious children of our nation, who were at the forefront of the struggle against the oppressive Shah regime and the war [with Iraq] and martyrdom, are now in jail or under house arrest?" He continued, "Our Constitution is our national covenant. But, have the fundamental rights of the people, including a ban on inquisition and eavesdropping, freedom of writing, press, and political and social groups, the right to peaceful marches and demonstration and a ban on incarcerating people without the due process, been respected and granted to them?"

The hotel in New York where Ahmadinejad is staying has become another subject for criticism by his adversaries. Many hardline media outlets that oppose the president have published reports about the Warwick Hotel; see, for example, here. They have reported that the total cost of Ahmadinejad's stay in the hotel is at least $125,000, and as much as $500,000. Other websites and newspapers have criticized Ahmadinejad for taking 100 officials with him to a country that has no diplomatic or commercial relations with Iran.

As reported by Tehran Bureau, the website of the pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper Iran warned a few days ago that the president has 140,000 documents that are evidence of corruption by 314 senior officials. The warning came in the form of a poem. Dolat-e Ma, a pro-Ahmadinejad website, reported, "The names of the 314 officials are more important than the 140,000 documents. The public is very curious about the names." The website warned that the names of some of the critics of Ahmadinejad are in the list of 314 officials.

Earlier, Shafaf News, a website close to Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, declared that Iran's threat is an "insult to the state," criticizing Ahmadinejad for using state secrets for his personal benefit. Alef, the website published by Ahmadinejad critic and Majles deputy Ahmad Tavakoli, opined that "Ahmadinejad is no longer a principlist."

Jahan News, the website published by Alireza Zakani, the hardline Majles deputy, also reacted to the Iran warning, and asserted that because Ahmadinejad had failed to follow through on his previous threats to publicize cases of corruption, he has made new allegations. The website said that in the past whenever such threats were made, they turned out to be hollow.

Jahan News also reported that Ahmadinejad's team has appointed 50 new city governors around the country. The new appointments -- if they have, in fact, taken place -- are presumably linked with the upcoming Majles elections in which the city governors play an important role.

In June 2010, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that the Majles exercise greater internal oversight of its members, in addition to the vetting of candidates by the Guardian Council. The Supreme Leader's suggestion, introduced to the Majles as a piece of legislation, has already provoked strong objections by some deputies. Ayande News, a website close to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, asked, if the plan were to be approved, "What happens to the people's rights?" According to the plan, a deputy can be investigated if there is a report about (1) financial or moral abuse, (2) behavior unbecoming of a deputy, or (3) the commission of acts against national security.

Dr. Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that British spies have shadowed him for the past six years, trying to gather information on him prior to the assassination attempt that nearly took his life last year. Abbasi Davani, speaking on the sidelines of the annual gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency's member states in Vienna, said,

Six years ago the intelligence service of the UK began collecting information and data regarding my past, my family, the number of children. The agents of MI6 of England in different and various places, including the airport in France, in scientific places in Poland, Italy, Netherlands, Malaysia...repeatedly followed me and looked for information regarding myself. They even checked the back door of my room in the university to see whether I have a bodyguard or not.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the computer systems of three television channels that Iran broadcasts into neighboring Islamic nations were hacked on September 13, disrupting the broadcasts for a day. It is not yet clear who the culprits were and from where they hacked the computer systems.

Majles deputy and Ahmadinejad critic Ali Motahari said that if parliament does not allow 86 deputies to summon Ahmadinejad and question him, he will resign from the Majles. (The support of just 72 legislators is legally sufficient to summon the president.) Asked about the accusations of Ahmadinejad's critics regarding the multibillion-dollar embezzlement case that has been roiling the regime and the counteraccusations by the president's camp that the issue is being politicized to attack the administration, Motahari said, "There are three groups of people that were involved. The top group consists of the management of some of the banks [involved]. If some senior officials have had a role too, they must naturally be considered as being in the top group, but the problem must not be politicized." He added that, at the minimum, Central Bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani must apologize to the nation.

Ayandeh News published an investigative article about Amir Mansoor Arya Development Investment Company (AMADIC), which is believed to be the main culprit behind the embezzlement. According to the article, the company was founded on June 18, 2008, and therefore "its establishment cannot be linked to the previous administration [before Ahmadinejad]." Its initial capital of $60,000 grew after just 30 months to $25 million. AMADIC's many subsidiaries include the Damash drinking water company, Damash Sports Club, Damash Tarabar Iranian (a transportation company), Looshan Steel and Iron Company, Foolad Iran Group (a steel concern), Amir Mansoor Iranian Distribution Company, Agricultural Engineering Services of Misagh Gilan Company, and Shafaf Shimi Plastic Company. Bahmani said that the total assets of the company are worth about $5.4 billion.

The fabric and textile merchants of the Tehran bazaar, who had ended their strike in protest against the implementation of a value-added tax law, have been on strike again since Tuesday. The previous strike, which lasted 40 days, was resolved through mediation by the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, which traditionally represents the bazaaris' interests. But the reopening lasted only one week.

Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, chairman of the Assembly of Experts and the spiritual leader of the principlist faction, said that he has given an ultimatum to the Jebheh Paaydaari-ye Enghelab-e Eslami (JPEE, or the Durability Front of the Islamic Revolution). The JPEE is a newly established hardline group that was founded by the reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, several former officials of the Ahmadinejad administration, and some of the president's supporters in the Majles. They are opposed to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani and other relatively moderate conservatives, and have refused to participate in the meetings of the so-called 7+8 Committee, which the principlists formed to draw up a joint list of candidates for the upcoming Majles elections next March.

While Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi is in New York with Ahmadinejad, reports indicate that Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, a close aide to Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and confidant, has been appointed as his adviser. As reported by Tehran Bureau, in June, Salehi appointed Malekzadeh as a deputy foreign minister but was almost immediately forced to dismiss him. Malekzadeh was even arrested and incarcerated for a couple of months.

Sadegh Saba, head of the BBC's Persian Service, denied that there were any BBC staff in Tehran or that the network had signed any agreement with the six people who have been arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence for allegedly collaborating on the making of BBC documentaries. He said, "We do not recommend that anyone in Iran produce any film for us. If someone approaches us to work for us in Iran, we will not accept it."

University activist Ashkan Zahabian was released after six months' imprisonment. Along with his incarceration, he has been suspended from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad. To protest his detention, Zahabian had gone on a hunger strike.

A large contingent of security personnel suddenly invaded Evin Prison's Ward 350, which houses 160 political prisoners. They inspected the prisoners' personal belongings and either destroyed many books or threw them out of the ward. It is not yet clear what prompted the raid.

The United States is considering setting up a direct military hotline with Iran after a series of close encounters between its forces and Iranian ones in the Persian Gulf. Over the past few years, American officials have expressed fears about the possibility that a misunderstanding could lead to a wider conflict in the Gulf region. A final decision is still pending. According to a Wall Street Journal report on the possible hotline, the United States is especially concerned about a fleet of speedboats that often challenge the U.S. and allied warships that pass through the Persian Gulf. The high-performance Iranian vessels, controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, can be equipped with missiles.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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