2110 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The Reserve Bank of India will no longer arrange payments for Iranian crude imports.
India's central bank said future payments will have to be settled outside the existing Asian Clearing Union mechanism, which includes central banks of India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Iran, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
1730 GMT: Execution Watch. Rawa News has published an interview with the sister of Habibollah Latifi, the Kurdish prisoner scheduled for execution on Sunday (now see the English text in a separate entry).
She says, "[The authorities] acted very cleverly. They delivered the sentence 1 1/2 hours before the close of office hours on Thursday. So we could not do anything. Today was a Friday [weekend in Iran]. Tomorrow is the last day [before the execution], unless a miracle appears. They have planned so that we can not actually do anything."
1610 GMT: Execution Watch. More on the pending execution, scheduled for Sunday, of Kurdish prisoner Habibollah Latifi for mohareb (war against God) and membership in teh Kurdish insurgent group PJAK....
The Kurdistan Human Rights Organization has expressed grave concern, calling on all human rights organisations, international bodies, and social activists to try and save Latifi.
According to Latifi's lawyer, the only avenue left for the detainee, who is imprisoned in Sanandaj, the only avenue left is application for a pardon.
Amnesty International has asked readers to write Iranian authorities on behalf of the prisoner. It reports that Latifi, a law student at Ilam Open University, was sentenced to death in a court behind closed doors without the presence of his lawyer.
Mission Free Iran has posted a letter of concern which can be sent to Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State.
1605 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mohammad Ali Kafami, the son of the late Ayatollah Mahmoud Kafami, and his wife and two children have been detained.
The seizures are connected to a police raid on a prayer ceremony in Isfahan in September, in which members of the Freedom Movement of Iran supporters were arrested. The head of the Movement, 80-year-old Ebrahim Yazdi, is still in prison.
1400 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. Thomas Erdbrink and Kay Armin Serjoie, writing from Tehran for The Washington Post, offer details on "resentment" over price hikes. These paragraphs are striking:
South of the capital, at the vast Tehran truck terminal near Akbarabad, there were no truckers to pick up goods ranging from fresh tomatoes to cigarettes and bring them to and from Iran's 31 provinces. After the price of diesel fuel was officially raised from the heavily subsidized price of of 6 cents a gallon to $1.32 a gallon, thousands of drivers nationwide simply stopped working.
Farhad Gholizadeh of the Tak Tarabar transportation company said he had never seen the normally bustling terminal so empty. "The government has given small, cheaper rations [of fuel] depending on the type of truck, but they quickly run out," he said. "Most of the drivers have pulled up their hand brake and stopped working until they are allowed to increase their prices."
1355 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. A Safe World for Women interviews Mehrangiz Kar, one of the first female lawyers in Iran to take up human rights cases, about her long-time friendship with detained attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh:
Nasrin was working according to the legal system and she knew that the system is full of discrimination and violations against Human Rights and democracy.
Even though she knew about the systematic violations, she was working to help her clients. She understood that the system is full of dangers but she was sensitive about Human Rights....
She knew that she would be targeted. But she always followed the law, made sure that her speeches were free of slogans and concentrated on what is lawful. She stayed within the boundaries of law.
1340 GMT: Diplomatic Challenge (cont.). We reported this morning on the harsh criticism of President Ahmadinejad in an open letter by former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
Some additional context for the incident: at a press conference in Istanbul, Ahmadinejad responded to a question from a BBC correspondent, "I briefed Mottaki on this decision before his departure [on a state visit to Senegal]. I do not know the reasons why he refuses to acknowledge it."
Mottaki then posted his open letter, saying that the President was lying and asking him to desist. He said, "I heard about my resignation on Monday from the official representatives of Senegal, during a meeting with them."
1330 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Film Edition). Hamid Dabashi writes about the six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on filmmaking, media interview, and foreign travel handed down to director Jafar Panahi and then lists other cases of the suppression and silencing of artists: "This is a slow and torturous murdering of the creative soul of a nation."
1325 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. Kalemeh reports that the Government has given 150 million litres of diesel fuel to chicken farmers to offset rises of at least 900% in cost.
1300 GMT: Stay Classy, Mahmoud. President Ahmadinejad, speaking in Istanbul at the Economic Cooperation Organization summit, gives the final word on economic pressure on Iran: "The officials of those countries who in the third millennium still think sanctions are an effective means are politically retarded."
1220 GMT: Terrorism Confusion. Yesterday Iranian state media were headlining that Abdolraouf Rigi, the head of the Baluch insurgent group Jundullah, had been arrested by Pakistani authorities.
Only one problem: Pakistan's officials deny they have held Rigi.
Abdolraouf Rigi succeeded Abdolmalek Rigi, who was executed last June.
1215 GMT: Another Government Dismissal. Another firing in the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, as Minister Mohammad Hosseini's deputy to Parliament is shown the door.
Earlier this week, Deputy Minister Mohammad Ali Ramin was told his services are no longer needed.
0945 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Summary. Ayatollah Emami Kashani says, "Everyone should support subsidy cuts".
Um, that's pretty much it.
0920 GMT: Diplomatic Challenge. Former Foreign Manouchehr Mottaki has harshly criticised President Ahmadinejad in an open letter.
Mottaki, who was suddenly dismissed 11 days ago while he was on a state visit to Senegal, has accused Ahmadinejad of lying about the firing and asked the President to stop the deception.
The President and his office have put out the story that they considered Mottaki's replacement in the summer and discussed the change with the Foreign Minister well before his trip to Africa.
0750 GMT: Internet chatter is dominated by the news that Iranian officials have scheduled the execution of Habibolllah Latifi for Sunday. Latifi, arrested in October 2007, was convicted of membership in the Kurdish insurgent group PJAK, actions against national security, and "mohareb" (war against God) in June 2008.
Elsewhere, human rights lawyer Nazila Ghanea posts a tribute to detained attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh. Ghanea, who accepted the Human Rights Award of Spanish Bar Associations on Sotoudeh's behalf in October, writes:
I too am an Iranian woman, I too am the mother of two young children, and I too have dedicated my life to the field of human rights law. But, as I impressed on the audience that night, I have nothing else in common with this heroic woman. She is a lawyer who fearlessly championed the rights of all others, took cases no one else would touch -- and she did so with no consideration for the repercussions on herself. She had been warned time and again that the authorities were not pleased with her tireless devotion and professionalism. Yet she had soldiered on.
Over the years, she stood up for those denied due process, those falsely charged, those threatened and denied prisoners' rights. And now she is suffering all these indignities and more.
The headline story of The New York Times is on measures allowing US companies to do "billions of dollars in business" with Iran and other "blacklisted" countries despite sanctions:
Most of the licenses were approved under a decade-old law mandating that agricultural and medical humanitarian aid be exempted from sanctions. But the law, pushed by the farm lobby and other industry groups, was written so broadly that allowable humanitarian aid has included cigarettes, Wrigley’s gum, Louisiana hot sauce, weight-loss remedies, body-building supplements and sports rehabilitation equipment sold to the institute that trains Iran’s Olympic athletes.
Hundreds of other licenses were approved because they passed a litmus test: They were deemed to serve American foreign policy goals. And many clearly do, among them deals to provide famine relief in North Korea or to improve Internet connections — and nurture democracy — in Iran. But the examination also found cases in which the foreign-policy benefits were considerably less clear.
In one instance, an American company was permitted to bid on a pipeline job that would have helped Iran sell natural gas to Europe, even though the United States opposes such projects. Several other American businesses were permitted to deal with foreign companies believed to be involved in terrorism or weapons proliferation. In one such case, involving equipment bought by a medical waste disposal plant in Hawaii, the government was preparing to deny the license until an influential politician intervened.
In an interview, the Obama administration’s point man on sanctions, Stuart A. Levey, said that focusing on the exceptions “misses the forest for the trees.” Indeed, the exceptions represent only a small counterweight to the overall force of America’s trade sanctions, which are among the toughest in the world. Now they are particularly focused on Iran, where on top of a broad embargo that prohibits most trade, the United States and its allies this year adopted a new round of sanctions that have effectively shut Iran off from much of the international financial system.
“No one can doubt that we are serious about this,” Mr. Levey said.