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Entries in Omid Mehregan (3)


The Latest from Iran (19 February): Finding the Real Stories

2100 GMT: Human Rights Front. The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center has issued a statement challenging Iran's presentation on Monday at the UN Human Rights Commission: "United Nations human rights experts must immediately investigate Iran’s prisons, including allegations of rape, torture, and the detention of people for peacefully exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and assembly."

NEW Iran & the “Non-Bomb”: The Real Story on Tehran’s Nuclear Programme
NEW Iran Book Update: No More Good Reads in Tehran
NEW Iran: Are The Banks Failing?
Iran Document: Today’s Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (18 February)
Iran Analysis: The “Now What” Moment (Farhi)
Iran: Getting to the Point on Detentions & Human Rights (Sadr)
Iran: Another Rethink on Green Opposition (Ansari)

Latest on Iran (18 February): Watching on Many Fronts

1910 GMT: And A Prisoner Released. Javad Askarian, an aide to Mehdi Karroubi, was released yesterday after a week in detention.

According to Saham News The veteran of the Iran-Iraq war had been sent to Evin prison on 10 February after being summoned by the intelligence ministry for providing “some explanations.”

1905 GMT: Another Political Prisoner. Iranian authorities have sentenced student activist Morteza Samiari to six years in prison. Samiari, an executive member of Iran’s national student union, was arrested because he received an open and official invitation to meet with representatives of a European Parliamentary Committee in Tehran.

1900 GMT: Your Friday Prayer Summary. Hardman Ahmad Khatami taking charge in Tehran today, and he is ready to gloat. Apparently "rioters" did not even bother to show up on 22 Bahman, disappointing the international media (you know, the reporters who were bused directly from the press centre to Azadi Square and back, not stopping and not Passing Go on the way) who wanted to relay “disturbances and clashes” rather than reflect the “epic” support of people for the Islamic Republic.

1740 GMT: Moscow's Slapdown. It's news that Russia has demanded "clear explanations" from Tehran about its nuclear programme. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:
We are very alarmed and we cannot accept this, that Iran is refusing to cooperate with the IAEA. For about 20 years, the Iranian leadership carried out its clandestine nuclear program without reporting it to the IAEA. I I do not understand why there was such secrecy.

But it's even more news that Iranian state media is highlighting the apparent division between Tehran and Moscow.

1600 GMT: BloggingHeads. As it's a slowish afternoon, I've been listening to this discussion between Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum about Iran. These are two of the most prominent analytic voices in Washington.

Striking to hear, therefore, the issue of whether Iran should be treated with respect and dignity reduced to "this is a country whose top three exports are pistachios, carpets, and saffron...aside from oil and gas, so it doesn't have a lot of claim to respect". And troubling to ask, after all 36 minutes....

How much knowledge of events inside Iran emerges in this discussion?

1500 GMT: We Pause for Levity. OK, this may not be serious news coverage, but it's Friday afternoon and I am already smiling at the breathless declaration, "Iran's Navy on Friday took the delivery of the first indigenously designed and developed guided missile destroyer Jamaran in the presence of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei."

Then the photo comes in. I think only two words will suffice: Caption Competition:

1350 GMT: Political Prisoner Update. Radio Zamaneh summarises last night's releases: Omid Mehregan, author, translator, and journalist released after two weeks; Ardavan Tarakemeh, film student and cinema critic, on $30,000 bail, after more than three weeks; Orouj Ali-Mohammadi, former governor of Tabriz; Safoura Tofangchi (her two daughters and husband are still detained); Mohammad Dardkeshan, a political activist with ties to the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, after two months.

1315 GMT: The Supreme Leader Says "No Nukes". Ayatollah Khamenei on the draft IAEA report: "Iran will not get emotional in its response to these nonsensical statements, because we have often said that our religious tenets and beliefs consider these kinds of weapons of mass destruction to be symbols of genocide and are, therefore, forbidden and considered to be haram (religiously banned). This is why we do not believe in atomic bombs and weapons and do not seek them."

1245 GMT: Well, Here's a Nuclear Surprise. Not. Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, called the IAEA's draft report "baseless". He said the cited documents were "fabricated and thus do not have any validity".

1240 GMT: The Rise of Rahim-Mashai. Yet another role for President Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai (see 0815 GMT): he has been appointed the President's deputy with full authority for "Rahyan-e Nour", the caravan trips to the battlegrounds of Khuzestan in southwestern Iran.

1100 GMT: A new Green website, Mardomkhabar, has been launched.

1055 GMT: The authorities are still jittery about a show by the opposition. Tehran police chief Ahmad Reza Radan has warned that those arrested during the celebration of Chaharshanbe Souri ("Fire Festival") will not be freed until the end of Iran's New Year celebrations.

1045 GMT: Economy Watch. Khabar Online has recycled the attack of MP Mus al-Reza Servati on the President's budget --- the Parliament would question Ahmadinejad over "irregularities", but is prevented from doing so by political considerations --- by reprinting the interview in English.

Khabar is also featuring an article, "Experts are warning on a drop in the oil production of the country," even as Iran's Oil Ministry is seeking a 25 percent increase by 2015.

0938 GMT: Iran's Nuclear Spin. Press TV is portraying the International Atomic Energy Agency report as "two-sided", verifying "the non-diversion of declared nuclear material" but "call[ing] on Iran to further discuss and cooperate on alleged issues".

0930 GMT: Punishing the Cleric. Kalemeh claims that Molana Abdol-Hamid, the Sunni Friday Prayer leader in Zahedan in eastern Iran has been prevented from leaving the country.

In his Friday Prayer address last week Abdol-Hamid described the Islamic Republic as a system that gives equal freedom to both pro- and anti-Government groups and allows voices of opposition to be heard: “The people of Iran brought the Revolution to victory to achieve its goals and now they demand the reviewing and realization of those goals.”

0925 GMT: Political Prisoner Update. Reporters and Humanright Activists in Iran reports that Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafar Dolatabadi has personally handed down a 16-count indictment to Bahareh Hedayat during an interrogation session at Evin Prison. Charges include spreading propaganda against the regime, taking part in post-election events, talking to foreign media organizations, insulting the Supreme Leader, insulting the President, and conspiring to act against national security.

0820 GMT: It is reported that the prominent German insurers "Münchner Rück" and "Allianz Versicherung" (the largest insurance firm in Europe) are pulling out of Iran because of the political situation.

0815 GMT: Another Office for Rahim-Mashai. President Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, may be widely disliked, but he continues to pile up the honours of office. The latest title is chief of pilgrimage and culture of Razavi Province, whose capital is the important religious city of Mashhad.

0810 GMT: Economy Watch. The leading reformist MP Nasrullah Torabi has criticised the flaws and the deceptive figures in the Ahmadinejad budget, claiming it is based on an estimate of 12-15% inflation rather than the true figure of 20-25% and that the development budget is only 20% of the total expenditure rather than the declared 35%.

0740 GMT: Friday is likely to be a Distraction Day. The "Western" media are likely to be possessed and obsessed by the nuclear story, running the Iran Imminent Threat headlines. They will do that even though the real story is that Tehran is nowhere close to nuclear weapons capability. How do we know? Well, because the Obama Administration said so on Thursday --- see our separate analysis as well as the draft of the International Atomic Energy report.

In Iran, the regime will maintain its post-22 Bahman strategy, declaring that all is now well while condemning foreign instigation of a supposedly marginal protest. Friday Prayers in Tehran will be one venue for the display.

We'll be looking elsewhere, however. The meeting between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi (see separate document) was a big signal yesterday that the opposition is re-assessing and preparing for its next surge. Theirmessage from the two men was "Be Patient. We're Working on This"; we'll be looking for reactions.

And of course the "establishment" challenge to President Ahmadinejad continues to pick up momentum. Economy Watch today has a piece assessing the state of Iran's banking sector.

We also report this morning from the  Cultural Front: it appears that the Iranian Government is blocking the booklovers' social site Goodreads as a threat to the regime.

Latest on Iran (18 February): Watching on Many Fronts

2120 GMT: Author, translator and journalist Omid Mehregan has been released from detention.

2100 GMT: So all our watching on many fronts is overtaken by the "Iran Might Be Getting A Bomb" story. Little coming out of Iran tonight; in contrast, every "Western" news outlet is screaming about the draft International Atomic Energy report on Iran's nuclear programme. (Funny how each, like CNN, is implying that it "obtained" an exclusive copy.)

1830 GMT: Political Prisoner News. "Green media" pull together reports that we carried last night: 50 detainees were released, including Shahabeddin Tabatabei, member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front and head of youth in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami, Parisa Kakaei of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, student activist Maziar Samiee, and Khosrow Ghashghai of the Freedom Movement of Iran.

An activist adds that Ardavan Tarakameh was released on bail this evening.

NEW Iran Document: Today’s Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (18 February)
NEW Iran Analysis: The "Now What" Moment (Farhi)
NEW Iran: Getting to the Point on Detentions & Human Rights (Sadr)
NEW Iran: Another Rethink on Green Opposition (Ansari)
Iran Analysis: Ahmadinejad Stumbles; “Karroubi Wave” Surges
Iran Nuke Shocker: Clinton/White House “Tehran Not Building Weapons”
Iran Document: Fatemeh Karroubi “My Family Will Continue to Stand for the People’s Rights”

The Latest from Iran (17 February): Psst, Want to See Something Important?

1745 GMT: Here We Go. Reuters proves our hypothesis within five minutes with "IAEA fears Iran may be working to make nuclear bomb":

The U.N. nuclear watchdog is concerned that Iran may now be working to develop a nuclear payload for a missile, the agency said in a confidential report on Thursday obtained by Reuters....

"The information available to the agency is extensive ... broadly consistent and credible in terms of the technical detail, the time frame in which the activities were conducted and the people and organizations involved," the report said.

"Altogether this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."

1. The report can't be that confidential if Enduring America got a copy of it off the Internet earlier this afternoon.

2. There is nothing new in the passage cited by Reuters. The IAEA has said repeatedly that information "raised concerns" about a possible military nuclear weapons programme. That is different from saying that the information establishes that Iran is pursuing such a programme.

(1840 GMT: We might as well whistle in the wind. BBC and National Public Radio in the US are following the leader with "UN Nuke Agency Worried Iran May Be Working On Arms".)

Meanwhile, from the other side, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has taken a swing at "Western pressure": "The Westerners say, 'You have a reactor in Tehran and its fuel should be supplied by us, and you should acquire fuel in the way we want, and give us your enriched uranium as well." And Deputy Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar has declared, "If they (Western countries) accept to swap (uranium) simultaneously in Tehran, we will stop the production of 20 percent fuel."

1740 GMT: On the Nuclear Front. Oh, well, you can pretty much put every internal story in Iran into cold storage for 48 hours --- the International Atomic Energy Agency has just released its latest report on Iran's nuclear programme. There's little, if anything, new in substance, but the IAEA's worried tone is likely to feed those who are pushing for tougher action against Tehran. And it most certainly will feed a media frenzy for the rest of the week.

We've posted the conclusion of the report as well as a snap analysis.

1600 GMT: Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (see 1110 GMT). We have posted the English text of the statement from today's two-hour discussion.

1540 GMT: Confirmed. Norway has granted asylum to the Iranian diplomat, Mohammed Reza Heidari, who resigned his post in January .

1515 GMT: On the Nuclear Front. Worth watching --- the Turks are now reporting back to the US after Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's talks in Iran on Tuesday. A Turkish website writes that Davutoglu chatted by phone with Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night. Davutoglu will meet US Undersecretary of State William Burns today, and he told reporters, "Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will discuss this issue with U.S. President Barack Obama."

1420 GMT: Column of the Day. Roger Cohen of The New York Times asserts that, rather than slapping on further sanctions, US authorities should focus on assisting Iranians with access to and dissemination of information: "With the Islamic Republic weaker than at any time in its 31-year history, fractured by regime divisions and confronted by a Green movement it has tried to quash through force, U.S. sanctions are abetting the regime’s communications blackouts."

1315 GMT: What's Mahmoud Saying? Yet another installment in the tough-guy posturing between the US and Iran. From Press TV's website:
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the Zionist regime of Israel is so terrified of the Lebanese resistance and people. The Iranian president made the remark in a phone conversation with the Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, ISNA reported on Thursday.

President Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah also discussed the latest developments in Lebanon and the region. He further praised Nasrallah's latest stance on the Israeli threats. "The Zionists are really terrified of the resistance and people in Lebanon and the region," President Ahmadinejad emphasized. "But they (the Israelis) are looking for opportunities to make up for their past defeats in Gaza and Lebanon as they feel their credibility and existence are in jeopardy."

However, the president insisted, "They don't dare to do anything as they are afraid of the consequences."
[He] further underlined the need for maintaining readiness against any potential Israeli threats adding, "If the Zionist regime want to repeat the same mistakes they previously made, they must be gotten rid of once and for all, so that the region will be saved from their nuisance for ever."

1215 GMT: We've posted a second analysis today, this one from Farideh Farhi, of the "Now What?" moment for Iran after 22 Bahman.

1200 GMT: Purging Iran of Mousavi. Kayhan newspaper has called for the removal of Mir Hussain Mousavi’s name from a road and a College of Art in Khameneh, a city near Tabriz.

1150 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch (and Much More). Key MP Ali Motahhari has not only defended Hashemi Rafsanjani, he has used that defence to launch another attack on the President in an interview with the pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper Vatan-e-Emrooz.

Motahhari said that Ahmadinejad, during the Presidential campaign, had insulted Rafsajani and his family on television in front of an audience of 50 million. Rafsanjani, Motahhari continued, was not given even a few minutes to defend himself when he requested airtime.

Motahhari's conclusion? To gain support, Ahmadinejad is ready to destroy "revolutionary characters".

1110 GMT:The Facebook site supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi has a brief Persian-language report, "Mousavi and [Mehdi] Karroubi met with each other; soon we will talk to the people."

1035 GMT: Britain's Channel 4 is featuring a video interview with a former Basij member who claims he was jailed and abused for refusing to beat protesters.

1015 GMT: We've posted, as a response to those who dismiss "human rights" in the consideration of post-election Iran, a concise comment by lawyer and human rights activist Shadi Sadr.

0920 GMT: Economy Watch. The Islamic Republic News Agency has a budget deficit of 6 billion toman (just over $6 million).

0910 GMT: Habibollah Asgharowladi, a leading "conservative" member of Parliament and one of the proponents of last autumn's National Unity Plan, has declared in the pro-Larijani Khabar Online that some politicians "still have the illusion of having a majority", a likely reference to Mir Hossein Mousavi. Asgharowladi advises, "They should wake up."

Khabar, which is carrying out a two-front political campaign against both Ahmadinejad and the Mousavi/Green Movement, also features the comments of MP Esmail Kousari that "Greens are a gift from the USA". He denounces their attempt to rally and insists that the Revolutionary Guard and Basij military were not involved in security on 22 Bahman.

0900 GMT: Soroush "Hold A Referendum". In an interview with Rooz Online, leading Iranian intellectual Abdolkarim Soroush considers the Islamic Republic and "religious democracy", calling for a public referendum on the system of velayat-e-faqih (ultimate clerical authority).

0855 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Add another statement from the Karroubi family. Ali Karroubi's wife Nafiseh Panahi has told Deutsche Welle of the 22 Bahman attack on the Karroubi entourage with pepper spray: "The bodyguards remained mostly around [Mehdi Karroubi] and one of the colleagues noticed that the special guards had captured Ali and were taking him away. Had he not seen this, we would not have know that Ali had been arrested.”

Panahi said that she was told, wrongly, that Ali Karroubi had been taken to Evin Prison: "Honestly I felt better, because we know that Evin is more law-abiding than other detention centers. But when he was released and returned home last night and described his ordeal, we realized what kind of a place he had been kept in.” Panahi added:
After interrogations were over they had told him, to go and thank God that they had asked us to release you, because if you had stayed here over night we would have killed you. His eyes were closed until the last moment. Then they opened the door and throw him onto the street. A car suddenly stopped and took him home.

When Ali Karoubi arrived home, his pants were bloody, his head was cut open, and his hands were so injured that they had given him something to wrap them with. They beat him with a baton, fracturing his arm.

0845 GMT: Your Morning Mystery. In early January, Iran's armed forces loudly declared via state media that they were going to hold a large military exercise in early February to improve "defensive capabilities". Infantry, cavalry, telecommunication, and intelligence units of the Army would be carrying out drills in cooperation with some units of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

Well, it's mid-February, and I must have missed the big show. Did it ever take place? Was the Iranian military merely blowing a bit of smoke (and, if so, wouldn't some folks in Iran have noticed the false declaration)? Or were the exercises planned, presumably at a great deal of expense, and then cancelled?

Any answers, especially, from the Iranian Armed Forces, welcomed.

0830 GMT: And A Very Big Diversion. I am not sure the Obama Administration thought through the results of this week's combination of Hillary Clinton's tough talk on Iran "dictatorship" and the visit of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Israel.

Here's one Washington may want to note. The Chief of Russia's Armed Forces General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov made his own grand declaration on Wednesday, warning that the US could strike Iran if it gets out of its current commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's an easy read: Russia reassures Iran, even as it is delaying the sale of S-300 missiles (partly in response to an appeal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), that it is watching Tehran's back. And it warns the US Government to chill out a bit on the regional posturing.


0820 GMT: Meanwhile, beware of distractions, notably those of "Nuclear Watch". Iranian state media throws up the latest diversion, quoting Turkish Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin in a meeting with Iranian Education Minister Hamid-Reza Hajibabaie in Ankara: "Turkey will continue its support for the peaceful Iranian nuclear program. All the countries have the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and Turkey has a clear policy regarding nuclear programs."

That's a cover for the more news-worthy but less convenient episode of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davugotlu's mission to Iran on Tuesday. With no break-through on a deal for uranium enrichment, it's the minor encounter (what role would an Education Minister have in Iran's nuclear programme?) that gets played up. Loudly.

0800 GMT: A busy Wednesday means that we now have several fronts to cover as the post-election conflict takes on new shapes in Iran.

There's "Economy Watch", which is an umbrella term to cover the renewed "conservative" challenge to President Ahmadinejad. For the moment, it appears that those who have been unsettled for months and who have been planning for weeks to push aside Ahmadinejad will focus on the President's budget and alleged economic mismanagement for their attacks. (There will be a significant exception in MP Ali Motahhari, who is now the point man to put wider demands, all the way to release of political prisoners.)

There's "Rafsanjani Watch". With the Government and its supporters still fearing that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani will "choose a side" and come out in direct opposition to Ahmadinejad, attacks on Rafsanjani have been stepped up in the last 48 hours. This front, for the moment, is likely to be more of a skirmish than an all-out battle: Rafsanjani will take cover in declared loyalty to the Supreme Leader. (Watch out, however, for the activities of Rafsanjani's children, notably his daughter Faezeh Hashemi. Yesterday they expressed open sympathy with the Karroubi family after the attack on Mehdi Karroubi's son Ali on 22 Bahman.)

And there's "Karroubi Watch". Count up the statements and letters to Ayatollah Khamenei in the last five days: Mehdi Karroubi, his wife Fatemeh, his son Hossein, even the mother-in-law of Ali Karroubi. No coincidence for me that a group, the "Sun Army", would try and silence the Karroubis by hacking the website Saham News, which is still rebuilding this morning.

None of this is to ignore the Green Movement as it considers its next moves. We have an analysis by Nazenin Ansari this morning.

The Latest from Iran (4 February): The Relay of Opposition

2200 GMT: To close the day, a video --- courtesy of The Flying Carpet Institute --- of a workers' demonstration in Arak on Wednesday:


2155 GMT: The Amir Kabir student website, a valuable source of information throughout the post-election crisis, has been attacked by the Iranian Cyber Army.

2135 GMT: Brother, Where Art Thou (cont.)? Davoud Ahmadinejad, the brother of the President, has declared that he is ready to prove that the beliefs of Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, clash with Islam. Once again, the attack appears in Khabar Online, the publication close to Ali Larijani.

2125 GMT: Journalists and press managers have requested the freedom of Ali Ashraf Fathi, clergyman and writer of the Tourjaan weblog (named after the location where Fathi's father was killed during the Iran-Iraq War), who was arrested last week during the "40th Day" memorial for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

NEW Latest Iran Video: What Does the Iranian Public Really Think? (4 February)
NEW Iran Analysis: The Missing Numbers in the Economy
NEW Iran Analysis: How Turkey Can Break the Nuclear Stalemate
NEW Iran Spam, Spam, Lovely Spam: Mass E-mails, Old Polls, and “Analysis”
Iran Special: Full Text of Mousavi Answers for 22 Bahman (2 February)
Iran Snap Analysis: “Game-Changers” from Mousavi and Ahmadinejad
The Latest From Iran (3 February): Picking Up the Pace

2110 GMT: Crackdown and Blackout. So the regime's strategy of breaking up any mass movement on 22 Bahman continues. Iranian activists and websites such as Reporters and Humanrights Activists in Iran continue to document arrests, and there is even a claim that three members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters --- Mehrdad Rahimi, Saeed Haeri, and Shiva Nazar-Ahari --- have been charged with "mohareb" (war against God).

Reports continue to circulate that Internet service has slowed significantly and even been halted in parts of Iran. Official explanations have included disruptions because of the loss of a major cable and "developments and expansions in the Tehran-Mashad corridor".

1930 GMT: We started the day with a sceptical post about a set of old polls being pushed to argue for the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad Government. We've now posted full video of Wednesday's two-panel seminar at the New America Foundation which featured those polls, "What Does the Iranian Public Really Think?"

1730 GMT: We've posted an analysis from Persian2English, of the latest numbers (and missing numbers) on the Iranian economy.

1700 GMT: Domestic Case of the Day. Ayande News claims that Mahdi Kalhour, the President's Media Advisor, was called into a police station after beating up his ex-wife, Masumah Taheri, last night. Taheri, claiming an injured neck, has decided to sue Kalhour; the court hearing will begin on Sunday.

A few months ago, Kalhour's daughter sought asylum in Germany.

1500 GMT: Greetings from Beirut. 90 Lebanese intellectuals have issued a statement of support for the Green Movement.

1420 GMT: Kalemeh is reporting that the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, which is led by Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib, a critic of the Government, was attacked again last night. Last month, Dastgheib's offices were temporarily closed after pro-Government groups took over the mosque. There is also an English-language summary on the Facebook page supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1400 GMT: The Ashura Trial. An Iranian activist has posted a translation of Wednesday's proceedings for the "first defendant", student at Damghan University:

1st defendant was charged with Moharebeh (war against God), being a corrupting agent & collusive acts against national security, propagandizing against the Islamic Republic & insulting high ranking officials.

1st defendant admitted to chanting "Death to Dictator", saying it was aimed at the President. He testified that he participated in four different protests. The 1st protest was the 40th (Day) memorial ceremony of the martyrs (30 July?). He went to 7 Tir Square, stayed for about 20 minutes, chanted "Death to Dictator", "Death to the Deceptive Government", & Allahu Akhbar. He was surprised to hear the more radical chants.

1st defendant said, at the Friday Prayers presided [over] by Ayatollah Rafsanjani, he along with his father & younger brother went to Qods street & video taped & took pictures of the crowd. 1st defendant also testified that he participated in Qods Day (18 September) protests, chanted pro-Ayatollah Sane'i slogans. He also said he chanted the slogan, "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran I will sacrifice."

He also participated in Ashura protest & video taped the crowd. After police used teargas, the crowd scattered at first & than gathered again & set a trash bin on fire. PPL were throwing stones at the police . He said at that time he was only video taping the scene. He then participated in throwing stones at the police who were standing far from the crowd. Once the crowd started to dissipate he went inside a home, stayed there for 20 minutes then left. On his way back home he saw a few injured people. Along with others he helped the injured & took them to the hospital. He than proceeded to go home.

On the way home he saw scenes that looked like war scenes. He video taped the war scenes. He did not send the videos to anyone, only showed them to friends. He testified that in 2008 he joined the Islamic Society, he & his family had reformist tendencies. He continued explaining that the elites claimed there was cheating in the election, he emphasized the point that many of the elites were absent from the President's confirmation ceremonies, then they announced there is a political coup. They asked us to come to the streets to protest & take our rights back.

The judge asked him about throwing stones on Ashura. The defendant explained because he had believed there was cheating in the elections, he went to the streets to protest the results. The judge than asked him about the flyers he distributed at Damghan University. He said he signed two petitions that demanded Ahmadinejad to resign.

At this point the defense attorney gave his short defense & asked the court for leniency for his client.

Judge than asked the 1st defendant to give his last defense. 1st defendant said he was capable of making decisions admitting that he made two mistakes, the first one leading to the second mistake. He said his first mistake was not to have researched the news sources & some groups. Second mistake was that even though he believed in Imam's path but, as the interrogator reminded him, he had forgotten Imam said "Support Velayat-e-Faqih (the Supreme Leader) so no harm can come to the country".

1st defendant continued to apologize to the Leader & asked for forgivness.

1210 GMT: Arrests and Sentences (cont.). Rah-e-Sabz has a round-up, including the detention of journalist Noushin Jafari, who covers cultural affairs for Etemaad newspaper.

1205 GMT: The Regional Diversion. Meanwhile, the US-Iran game of power-posing plays out. Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, has responded to the US declaration that it is providing anti-missile capability to four states on the Arabian peninsula:
They don't want to see good and growing relations between Iran and its neighbors in the Persian Gulf and thus started a psychological war....It is not new for us ... we were informed when they were installed, including about their exact locations ... Patriot missile could be easily deactivated by using simple tactics.

1200 GMT: Breaking Activism. AUT News summarises part of the regime's strategy to "win" on 22 Bahman (11 February), the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution: in recent days, 15 former and current student activists have been arrested throughout Iran.

1030 GMT: Ahmadi's Nuke Gambit. Finally, some white smoke from the Islamic Republic News Agency, which runs a supportive article for the President's proposal to swap Iran's uranium abroad. An "unnamed senior diplomat" explains that the initiative shows Iran's "flexibility" in negotiations on the issue.

0945 GMT: An EA source from Iran reports that Omid Mehregan, a translator and intellectual in Tehran, was arrested last night. Soon after the election, Mehregan and Morad Fardhadpour wrote for the British periodical Red Pepper: "Misguided western leftists may have their doubts about the Iranian mass movement against President Ahmadinejad’s disputed election ‘victory’. They should put them aside in the face of the new politics of revolt."

0905 GMT: Student activist Maziar Samiee has been arrested.

0900 GMT: On the International Front. We've posted an analysis, from colleagues at, of how Turkey might be able to break the deadlock in nuclear talks between the "West" and Iran.

0800 GMT: Arrests and Sentences. Reporters and Humanrights Activists in Iran is providing regular updates, such as the four-year prison term for author and literary journalist Javad Maherzadeh.

0735 GMT: We've posted an article --- half in fun, half in academic horror --- at a mass e-mail and five-month-old (dubious) poll passing itself off as confirmation of the current legitimacy of the Iran Government.

(I might have let this go without comment --- why give more publicity to poor analysis? However, I noticed last night that Joshua Holland of AlterNet, a blogger whom I respect very much, subsequently wrote, "Polls Suggest Everything You Think You Know About Iran’s 'Tainted' Election Is Wrong".

I should add that Holland was on an advance press list, rather than a generic list of recipients, for the material on the polls and that he has interviewed the polling group on several occasions, for example, over their work in Iraq. Still, my worry was that a very shaky exercise would be refreshed as confirmation that the Ahmadinejad Government is on solid ground and faces little resistance.)

0600 GMT: It did not bring as much attention outside Iran as Mir Hossein Mousavi's statement on Tuesday or President Ahmadinejad's declaration of a shift in Tehran's position on its nuclear programme. Mehdi Karroubi certainly did not prompt the fevered reactions to his comments of the previous week, but make no mistake: his proclamation on Wednesday on the protest of 22 Bahman as a necessary if calm response to the abuses of the Government was the event of the day. It consolidated the latest rhetoric from leading opposition politicians and clerics, as The Los Angeles Times --- which, to its credit, was the US newspaper that recognised the declaration's importance --- signalled in this lengthy extract:
We are approaching the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at a time when both the Islamism and republicanism of the regime have been seriously questioned. The 10th presidential election was tainted with fraud. Peaceful protests were met with violence and suppression, and finally the walls of trust between people and the establishment collapsed.

People's demands have to be taken seriously into account. Repression, mass detention of political activists, journalists and students, show trials, execution and heavy punishments and security crackdowns cannot contain the prevailing crisis.

Those in power should reconsider their methods, and keep in mind that neither silence nor retreat on our part, nor threats, intimidation and violence on their part, can resolve the problems.

The authorities take no step in favor of the people and give childish and bizarre images of the current bitter realities.

State corruption and discrimination are rife in the country. The leaders are incapable of dealing with simple domestic affairs, but they claim to be able to run the world.

Rigid-minded hard-liners continue to utter baseless accusations against the pillars of the regime and the faithful confidants of the late imam [Ayatollah Khomeini].

All articles of the constitution have to be fully implemented. All political prisoners have to be released unconditionally. Press restrictions have to be scrapped and criticism should be tolerated. The current climate of intimidation and fear has to change. These are the demands of the opposition movement.

In contrast, the regime --- while noting that it still has the far-from-minor weapon of sweeping up activists and putting them in prison, as it continued to do on Wednesday --- was caught up in another spate of indecision. After the posturing of the rocket launch yesterday morning, officials had to figure out what to do next with President Ahmadinejad's announcement, backed up by his Foreign Minister, that Iran would allow a "swap" of uranium stock outside the country to ensure 20% uranium for its civilian reactors.

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, tried to hold the line, "The discussions are still being conducted, and we will inform the nation of any final agreements," in the face of questions. Pressed who might host the "third-party enrichment", "he cited an Asian country, but would not specify which one". (Answer: it's Turkey.)

Further evidence that Ahmadinejad had spoken loudly but now had to back up the words by getting agreement from those within the regime came from Press TV, which could merely report last night, "The West has urged Iran to submit a formal offer to the UN nuclear watchdog after the Iranian president said his government was ready to negotiate over a fuel swap deal."