1925 GMT: Mahmoud Says All is Well. President Ahmadinejad has given another "exclusive" interview to a Western broadcaster, this time Britain's Channel 4. Once again, the discussion started with nukes, nukes, nukes, allowing Ahmadinejad (who I suspect is pretty used to this line of questioning) to stake out his defence of the Iranian nation against Washington --- "We are against the expansionist policies of the United States" --- and ending in the cul-de-sac of the question, "Is the matter of extended hands finished?"
NEW Iran Video & Transcript: Ahmadinejad Interview with Britain’s Channel 4 (23 December)
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Isfahan Protests (23 December)
NEW Iran: Is the US Government Now Going to Engage with the Opposition?
NEW Iran Analysis: The Regime’s Cracks Widen, The Wave Resurges?
NEW Iran: Is Ayatollah Sane’i The Next Montazeri?
UPDATED Iran Video: University Demonstrations for Montazeri (22 December)
Iran Special Analysis: After Montazeri — From Protest to Victory?
Latest Iran Video: The Last Goodbye to Montazeri (21 Decem
The Latest from Iran: Momentum against a Sinking President? (22 December)
It's the second half of the interview that is surreal, however, with Ahmadinejad's defiance --- in the face of all evidence to the contrary --- "We have freedom in Iran - people are free to express their views":
JON SNOW: The Basij here, and we have this firsthand from a member of the Basij, he says they were given the permissions to go in and use no restraint and attack people who disagree with you. Women, men were hit with batons - and some were killed.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: In my opinion you have access to some information which I don’t know.
JS: Well we have spoken to a Basij who told us what orders they were given.
MA: With whom did you talk to?
JS: We spoke with a member of the Basij who has now run from Iran.
MA: Clearly this source of information must be very exact. I think it is not correct to judge in this way. In our country the law prevails.
JS: But you can see videos Mr President. You've scene the pictures of what the Basij were doing and what the Revolutionary Guard were doing. And what he has seen too is the beating and the raping of men and women in detention.
MA: Did you see all of these things on the pictures?
JS: We saw all of the things in the streets - of course we do not get the stories of what happened in the containers where people were being detained.
MA: There have been clashes amongst some people - how can you find out if he was Basij or another person? Let me repeat that. In my country the law prevails.
JS: You deny that the Basij beat up these people?
MA: No, we are not concerned with these things as you claim. The law prevails. Some people may violate the law in any place anywhere. And maybe they have not observed and respected the law during demonstrations or protests they may have participated in illegal demonstrations. Or they might get involved in clashes whether they are ordinary people or from among the Asians....
The law will certainly investigate. Iran is a free country. Do you believe that Iran should be like West? We have freedom in Iran - people are free to express their views. They can also cry for their rights…you are making a mistake….
1835 GMT: Please Don't Green the Currency. And now this from the Central Bank of Iran: it is asking you really, really nicely to please, please stop putting slogans on banknotes.
1825 GMT: The Homosexuals and Women Are Especially Dangerous. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi, last noticed when he was trying to take down the Rafsanjani family, widened his net --- really widened it --- today. I think the statement stands on its own, with no further elaboration:
Moslehi announced that the ministry has identified 80 foundations and organizations that were active in the post-election protests. In a meeting with the nation's provincial premiers he announced that these organizations were involved in the post-election "sedition" and one of them even has a $1.7-billion budget.
The Intelligence Minister reportedly added that the objective of the "seditious movement" in the Islamic Republic is "altering the behaviour of government officials and the people" as well as dismantling the Islamic Republic regime from within. Mr. Moslehi maintained that this movement was established earlier at the conference of Berlin and Denmark.
He listed "People's Mojahedin Organization, monarchists, religious and ethnic terrorists, Baha'is, homosexuals, feminist groups, nationalists and Marxists" as members of this movement.
Heydar Moslehi announced that "we are now completely on top of this sedition and have the traffic of the seditious elements with the West under close surveillance."
1630 GMT: Ayatollah Sane'i's office claims that attackers in Qom were allowed to move unchecked on Tuesday, as police did not respond to calls for help.
1625 GMT: The Ministry of Intelligence has ordered the cancellation of all memorial services for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.
1550 GMT: A tearful Ayatollah Taheri, who was supposed to give the memorial address for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri in Isfahan, said he tried six different entrances to get into the mosque, but all of them were closed.
Mir Hossein Mousavi's website Kalemeh also says that security forces used pepper spray and tear gas on the crowd, beating some people severely.
1535 GMT: Isfahan Protests. We've posted the first two clips that we believe are authentic.
1415 GMT: Ahmadinejad in Shiraz --- The Workers Protest. Another sign that the President's Magical Mystery Political Tour is not going smoothly. From Persian2English:
Workers of the Long Distance Telecommunications Company of Iran, who protest regularly over unpaid wages chose this time to make their voices heard at Hafeziyeh Stadium in Shiraz. The protest occurred during a speech by Ahmadinejad at the same location.
Many people had banners with slogans such as “800 families, 8 months without pay” and “it has been 12 months since we got paid”. Before arriving at the Stadium, Ahmadinejad called the protesters "without honour” and “two-faced". He asked God to destroy them.
1354 GMT: Reports that journalists Fariba Pajooh and Nafiseh Zarekohan and student activist Hojat Sharifi have been released on bail.
1350 GMT: Uncertainty. Back from a lunch break to find no advance in confirmed news on today's clashes in Isfahan. Instead, there is a deluge of rumours of security forces holding positions, including the mosque which was to hold the Montazeri memorial, Isfahan, and conversely protestors seizing locations and setting up barricades in Isfahan and Najafabad.
It has been stunning, however, how Western media --- in contrast to their limited attention in recent months --- are now all over any report of protest in Iran. Almost every major US and British broadcaster and newspaper is recycling the Rah-e-Sabz report from Isfahan. The Green movement is now the "prodigal" child, adopted once more by non-Iranian journalists as the rightful heir of the Islamic Republic.
1345 GMT: The Reiss Trial. The case of Clotilde Reiss, the French graduate student arrested this summer, drags on. After rumours and confusion this week over a possible "prisoner swap" between Paris and Tehran, Reiss appeared today for trial. The hearings were suspended after three hours, however, with an indeterminate conclusion: Reiss' lawyer said, "The final part of pleadings concerning the accusations against the French national will be made in the next session of the trial."
1158 GMT: Going after Larijani. Mir Hossein Mousavi's advisor, Alireza Beheshti, has launched a scathing attack on the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, effectively accusing him of sanctioning the aggressive measures of plainclothes security forces.
1155 GMT: Norooz is now reporting on the surrounding of Ayatollah Taheri's house by security forces.
1135 GMT: Another Tuesday Demonstration. Footage has now emerged of a demonstration, reportedly at Isfahan's Sanati University:"Our [Supreme] Leader's message is insulting our Marja [senior clerics]/Desperate Dictator, our movement will continue."
1103 GMT: Arrests in Isfahan. Among those arrested in today's clashes, according to activists: Hojatoleslam Masoud Adib, Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign manager in Qom, and Mohammad Nazeri, an activist in Mousavi's election campaign.
1100 GMT: With the help of EA readers, we've now put the question, "Is the Obama Administration About to Engage with Iran's Opposition?"
1035 GMT: Today's Fist-Shaking. Iran police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam is the man to hand out the warning, "We advise this movement to end their activities. Otherwise those who violate the order will be fiercely confronted, based on the law."
1015 GMT: Jaras website is reporting that the home of Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri has been surrounded by security forces. Taheri was supposed to give the address at the memorial in Isfahan, cancelled because of the security presence, for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.
1005 GMT: Down with Supreme Leader? We've posted new video from yesterday's demonstrations, including a clip declaring "This is the month of blood; Seyed Ali [Khamenei] will be overthrown."
1000 GMT: Reformists report more than 50 arrested, including four journalists, in Isfahan.
0925 GMT: The Protest That Failed? Perhaps, given the source, this claim should be taken with a grain of salt; however, the reformist site Rah-e-Sabz asserts that, despite regime efforts to bring out a crowd for President Ahmadinjead's speech in Shiraz on Tuesday, the turnout was "thousands less" than they hoped for.
0850 GMT: The World is Watching. The BBC's flagship radio news programme has just carried a special item on the Rah-e-Sabz report of "heavy clashes" in Isfahan, with "several injured". While Jon Leyne's summary adds nothing to the story on the reformist website, it indicates that the BBC is now paying close attention to developments, with Leyne adding context from Monday and Tuesday's demonstrations.
0835 GMT: And Away on the Nuclear Front. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has trotted out the now-firm Iranian Government line: the elevation of uranium stock to 20 percent enrichment must take place inside the country, for example, through the "swap" of Iran's 3.5 percent stock for the 20 percent supply.
0810 GMT: Hiding the Politics. The announcement from Press TV is matter-of-fact, ignoring any political dimension or symbolism of growing conflict:
Iran's Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution has appointed poet Ali Moallem Damghani to the position of President of the Academy of Arts. The Council named Moallem on Tuesday to replace defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
0755 GMT: The reformist site Rah-e-Sabz is now also reporting "heavy clashes" in Isfahan.
0750 GMT: A LiveBlog is reporting that security forces closed the doors of the mosque in Isfahan and that there are now clashes in the area.
0730 GMT: With both the tension and opposition momentum after Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's death both unchecked, we start today with two analyses. We have posted our reading of the regime's growing problems and consideration of whether the Green Wave is now resurgent. And Josh Shahryar assesses whether the reformist opposition will have a new clerical beacon, replacing Montazeri, in Ayatollah Yousef Sane'i.
As we post these, the breaking news is of the regime trying to hold back the tide of challenge: today's memorial service in Isfahan for Montazeri has been cancelled because of the large presence of riot police and security forces.