2230 GMT:It is reported that Parisa Kakaee of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters Maziar Samei of the One Million Signatures Campaign, Bahar Tarakameh, and Nazanin Hassania have been released from prison. 26 other political prisoners are also reported to have been freed.
1830 GMT: I'm on an evening break which happily involves dinner at Birmingham's best Iranian restaurant.
1820 GMT: More Importantly (Rafsanjani Front Continued). Hashemi Rafsanjani, manoeuvring against the pressure on him, has issued another statement declaring his loyalty to the Supreme Leader:
Certain people inside Iran are fanning divisions that never existed and do not exist, and foreigners looking for propaganda feed themselves some tasty morsels....Why should we have differences? Even now we sit together every two weeks and discuss every issue in the country. These are meetings where we speak without restrictions because they are not recorded.
NEW Iran Analysis: Ahmadinejad Stumbles; “Karroubi Wave” Surges
NEW Iran Nuke Shocker: Clinton/White House "Tehran Not Building Weapons"
NEW Iran Document: Fatemeh Karroubi “My Family Will Continue to Stand for the People’s Rights”
Iran Special: Live-Blogging Ahmadinejad Press Conference (16 February)
Iran: Why The Beating of Mehdi Karroubi’s Son Matters
Iran Document: The 10-Demand Declaration of 4 Labour Unions
Iran Document: Shadi Sadr at the UN on Abuse, Justice, and Rights (12 February)
The Latest from Iran (16 February): Un-Diplomatic Declarations
1815 GMT: For What It's Worth. Some outlets are giving lots of play to the Supreme Leader's use of Hillary Clinton's "dictatorship" statement to issue his own challenges to the "West".
You can get notable extracts in that coverage --- frankly, I know this script and I can't be bothered to post any more of it.
1810 GMT: Shahabeddin Tabatabei, of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been released on $500,000 bail after eight months in detention.
1800 GMT: And the Karroubi Front. Following up our analysis of the renewed Karroubi challenge to Ahmadinejad and the text of the interview of Mehdi Karroubi's wife Fatemeh, some more news:
The mother-in-law of Ali Karroubi, the son of Mehdi who was beaten on 22 Bahman, has followed Fatemeh Karroubi’s letter to the Supreme Leader with one of her own: "As a mother of three martyrs of Iran-Iraq War, I ask you to listen to people’s voices and help them and punish those who hurt protesters." Like Fatemeh Karroubi, she said that her letter was not only for Ali but for any innocent person who has been jailed, beaten, or run over by cars as in the Ashura demonstrations.
The children of Hashemi Rafsanjani and the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini have visited Ali Karroubi and condemned the attack on him.
1755 GMT: On the Rafsanjani Front. Mehdi Hashemi, the son of Hashemi Rafsanjani, has responded to the jibe of Fars News that he has "settled" in London. Hashemi said in a letter, "I am doing my Ph.D. abroad just like any other Iranian. I have not become the refugee of any country. And I will return to Iran when the time comes."
1750 GMT: The Challenge on the Economy. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani did not wait long to respond to the President's press conference. He made 15 points against the proposed budget and said that he had mentioned his dissatisfaction in a meeting with the Supreme Leader.
The pro-Larijani Khabar Online is also featuring the statement of an MP that, if Parliament did not have to follow procedure, it would have questioned Ahmadinejad over his illegal actions.
1740 GMT: From the blog of Shadi Sadr, via Pedestrian, referring to journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi, who has been sentenced to six years in prison:
An hour ago, I walked out of the post office and was hurriedly walking towards the metro when I saw a man on the sidewalk with two bags of fruit in his hand. I first saw the tangerines in one of the bags, and then I saw his face, as he was passing by me. He looked so much like Ahmad Zeydabadi! My heart sank. I thought: there were certainly days when Ahmad Zeydabadi too would buy fruit on his way home … those simple days of the past seem like so long ago!
I did not know Ahmad Zeydabadi personally. But I have a distinct memory of him in mind. A few years ago when the Committee of Human Rights Reporters had a press meeting to speak against the controversial family laws, Zeydabadi went to the podium, and instead of talking in difficult, muddled terms, like the politicians who spoke before him, he only spoke of his personal experience, growing up in a family of two wives. And through that, he spoke about how in a family where there are multiple wives, not only do the wives endure pain, but so do the children. His were some of the most honest words I’d ever heard, and I will never forget them. The day after, when I went through the news, no matter how much I looked, I did not see any of Zeydabadi’s words anywhere. Even those friends of mine who were filming the meeting, had not thought anything of Zeydabadi’s speech and had not filmed it! That’s when I realized how much our own culture is still resistant to men who want to break stereotypes.
I can write about Zeydabadi, because I did not know him personally. But I can’t write of my own friends who are in prison, because I’m afraid of what their interrogators will do. I’m afraid that they might put my friends under even more pressure. I can only say this: it has been a good while now that I know that every morning when I wake up and turn on the computer and read the news, a long list of my friends, acquaintances, colleagues, someone I used to know, will be in the list of new prisoners. Every day, familiar names are added behind the walls of Evin Prison, and everyday I ask myself: where did they go, those simple days? …
1735 GMT: Economics 101. Iran's Deputy Energy Minister, Mohammad Behzad, says 20 power plants will be privatised in the first half of the next Iranian year, ending 20 September.
Q. Given the problems in Iran's electricity industry, with the Government owing millions and up to 900,000 workers facing layoffs, who would want to purchase a power plant?
A. Maybe an up-and-coming firm with absolutely no connection whatsoever with the Islamic Revolution GuardsCorps?
1640 GMT: Changing the Numbers. EA readers may have noted our scepticism over some of the President's economic claims in his Tuesday press conference. Jahan-e San'at shares the view, criticising Ahmaninejad for citing data from 2007/8 as the figures for 2008/9.
1635 GMT: The reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party has thanked all those who participated in the 22 Bahman rally despite threats and intimidations, and it has condemned "hard-line" propaganda for claiming that all those who participated in the rally were supporting "the coup government".
1630 GMT: Tabriz Lockdown? The speech of reformist member of Parliament Mohsen Armin, scheduled for today, has been cancelled. The cancellation follows the claimed halt of an appearance by Mir Hossein Mousavi in the same city on 22 Bahman.
1625 GMT: Iran v. Coma Countries. Quote of the day goes to Brigadier-General Seyyed Massoud Jazayeri, "The West has gone into a coma after mounting a propaganda campaign to sway the public opinion over Iran's nuclear issue."
1600 GMT: Labour Pessimism. Back from a break to find an analysis by two Iran-based journalists, "Opposition Fails to Organize Strikes". Javoo Akbar and Nivoo Sarvi (pseudonyms) conclude:
The absence of an independent workers’ union and the lack of interaction between their different associations across the country has resulted in low levels of political consciousness. That and the fact that so many of the weapons are in the hands of the authorities, means there is no prospect of either the opposition or organised labour initiating widespread workers’ strikes to back Mousavi or any other opposition figure.
1320 GMT: Putting Hashemi in His Box (cont.). More on yesterday's update about renewed attacks against former President Hashemi Rafsanjani ahead of next week's meeting of the Assembly of Experts, which Rafsanjani chairs.
Kalameh reports that Hamzeh Karami, manager of the Jomhouriyat website, which was active during the elections, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison and payment of six billion tooman (just over $6 million).
The link to Rafsanjani? In the Tehran trials last August, Karami gave a high-profile "confession" that implicated Mehdi Hashemi, Rafsanjani's son, in corruption and diversion of election funds to undermine Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
1225 GMT: How that "Regime Change" Thing Works. First, a couple of US Congressmen, John Cronyn and Sam Brownback, introduce an "Iran Democratic Transition Act" committing the US Government "to fully and publicly support efforts of the Iranian people to oppose and remove the current regime and transition to a freely elected, open, and democratic government in Iran".
Then Press TV gets hold of the bill, which is more a bit of political posing than likely legislation, to drive home the "foreigners" v. "good Iranian nation" theme:
Two Republican senators have once again introduced a draft bill in the US Congress seeking full support for the Iranian opposition and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic government in Iran. Senators John Cornyn and Sam Brownback introduced the so-called “Iran Democratic Transition Act” bill on February 11, coinciding with the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, in which unprecedented tens of millions of Iranians poured into the streets to rally and celebrate the 31st anniversary.
An 'extraordinarily' high number of people marched across different cities in the country, throwing their lot with a revolution which toppled a US-backed monarchy in Iran.
The bill repeats the old rhetoric about human rights violations in Iran, its nuclear energy program, and alleged support for terrorism, fully advocating a “regime change” in the country.
1215 GMT: The Clinton Charade. The theatre continues today, with the Supreme Leader using Hillary Clinton's "dictatorship" remark to strike a pose. Khamenei accused her of spreading "lies" and said, "Those who have turned the Persian Gulf into an arms depot in order to milk regional countries for money have now dispatched their official to go around the Persian Gulf and spread lies against Iran."
1115 GMT: For What It's Worth. CNN has posted the video of its interview with Iran's top "human rights" official, Mohammad Javad Larijani: "Iran is the greatest, the only democracy in the Middle East."
1055 GMT: Alireza Beheshti, Mir Hossein Mousavi's chief advisor, has resumed teaching at Tarbiat Modarres University. Beheshti was recently released after several weeks in detention.
1030 GMT: A Buffet of Analyses. We've got Sharmine Narwani taking apart the US Government's conflicting signals on Iran's nuclear programmes, an analysis of Ahmadinejad's stumble and the "Karroubi wave", and the English text of Fatemeh Karroubi's interview with Rooz Online.
0855 GMT: More on the Economic Front. Ali Asghar Yousef-Nejad, a member of the Parliament's Industries Commission, has declared that budget details are unclear and asserted that the Minister of Economy has projected only 3% growth, instead of the 8% envisaged in the budget. (Yesterday the President simply made up a figure for Iran's 2009/10 growth.)
0825 GMT: Not That Close to the US. More fencing on the nuclear issue and "America": Haghighat News, linked to the President, has denied that Ahmadinejad's chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashai met with US officials in Qatar. His trip, which coincided with the stay of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her delegation, "was simply aimed to observe the condition of Iranians residing in the Persian Gulf Arabian country".
0815 GMT: In Rah-e-Sabz, Farid Modaresi offers a lengthy analysis on the relationship between Qom's clerics and the Government. Amidst its interesting insights is a meeting between Ayatollah Nouri-Hamedani and the head of Bonyade Shahid, the charitable trust for war veterans and their families. Nouri-Hamedani requested that this message be passed the President: "If you want to stay in power, eliminate problems like high prices (from which 70% of the population suffers), unemployment, discrimination. Eliminate also housing problems."
0750 GMT: Want to See an EA Analysis in Action? Here's a big clue pointing both to the economic Achilles' heel of the Ahmadinejad Government (see 0645 GMT) and the hope that it will just go away. Press TV headlines its summary of the President's press conference, "Ahmadinejad says Iran to install advanced centrifuges."
Number of paragraphs devoted to the nuclear issue? 11
Number of words devoted to the economic questions that dominated the conference? 0
0745 GMT: Evaluating the Movement. Ali Farhadzadeh offers a lengthy critique of the origins and development of the post-election opposition:
No one can deny the role of a leader in bringing protesters together in the freedom movements of modern history, such as the role Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King played in the progress and triumph of the movements of India, South Africa and African Americans in the United States. However, in the Green Movement the lack of leadership is somehow compensated by virtual social networks.
0735 GMT: American Postures. Another shot at Tehran from a US official, although this may be just a specific statement from the American military linked to Iraq's internal development rather than part of a wider get-tough strategy:
The top American commander in Iraq says the U.S. has "direct intelligence" that two senior Iraqi officials in charge of keeping Saddam Hussein loyalists out of the Baghdad government have ties to Iran. Gen. Raymond Odierno says Ali al-Lami and Ahmed Chalabi "are clearly influenced by Iran" and have attended senior-level meetings with members of the hardline Shiite regime there.
0730 GMT: We've posted Tricia Sutherland's human rights special this morning, summarising developments between 7 and 14 February.
0725 GMT: Closing Iran's Movies. The first time EA has taken a story from Hollywood's newspaper, Variety:
Iranian helmer Jafar Panahi has been denied permission by local authorities to travel to Berlin.
Panahi, whose "Offside" was awarded the fest's jury grand prize in 2006, was scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on Iranian cinema during the fest's World Cinema Fund Day today.
The Berlinale sent out a press release Tuesday announcing that Panahi would not be attending the fest, where he was an honorary guest.
"We are surprised and deeply regret that a director who has won so many international prizes has been denied the possibility to take part in our anniversary festival and to speak about his cinematic visions," said fest director Dieter Kosslick.