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The Latest from Iran (3 December): A Phantom Bombing

2020 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Power Politics Edition). Keep your eyes on this story....

A group of 16 Iranian political prisoners, including prominent reformist politicians Mohsen Aminzadeh and Mostafa Tajzadeh and journalists Bahman Ahmadi Amoui and Mohammad Nourizad have written an open letter to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, describing their continued incarceration “in violation of the law” and in the “framework of settling political accounts”.

Addressing Rafsanjani in his role as head of the Expediency Council, the detainees said the treatment of political activists in the Islamic Republic today “bears no sign of the principles of the Revolution and its constitution". They maintain that their charges are fabricated and the “heavy sentences and restrictions that they have been handed are part of a political and security plan by the establishment to completely erase the political opposition”.

The prisoners compared the current situation to the political detentions before the 1979 Revolution, with officials forcing prisoners to give false confessions and then issuing sentences based on them: “The issued sentences in view of level and kind of punishment seem to indicate that they have been set by security officials based on their own ideas and personal preference, and relayed to the judges.”

1610 GMT: A Principlist Split? A provocative statement from MP Ali Motahari, who is leading criticism of the President....

Motahari said both Ahmadinejad and his Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, were now "outside the principlist camp" because of their positions on social and cultural issues.

Motahari continued that, while there may have been support from "seditionists" for post-election protest, this did not justify violations such as the abuses at the Kahrizak detention centre and the raids on Tehran University dormitories.

Furthering the notion that Ahmadinejad is now outside the principlist faction, Motahari said that Government interference in Parliamentary elections is wrong.

1555 GMT: On Campus. The Islamic Association of Students of Babol University in northern Iran have issued a statement for National Student Day on 16 Azar (7 December), calling on their classmates to honour the day and protest the unjust imprisonment of their colleagues.

1330 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Tough-talking Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami putting out the sermon today, and he's riffing off Monday's car bombings targeting nuclear physicists.

No surprises in who get the blame --- Israel, US, Britain --- but a bit of a twist that London gets top billing. That is thanks to the recent statement by the head of MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence service, declaring that covert efforts had been undertaken to disrupt Iran's nuclear programme --- look for this to run and run in Iranian public announcements.

Elsewhere, Khatami had the reassurance, "Iran's enemies know well we are not pursuing an atomic bomb, not out of fear, but because the atomic bomb is incompatible with the Islamic system."

Khatami then praised the Basij militia and said, "Stay Mobilised."

A special mention for deputy in the judiciary, Hojatoleslam Mehdi Seyed Ibrahim, with his useful support in the introduction to Friday Prayers: "People should have no doubt that the perpetrators of the recent terror incidents will be brought to justice."

1315 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Historian Abdollah Shahbazi, detained earlier this week, has been released temporarily because of his poor health.

Shahbazi suffers from a heart condition.

1040 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that arrests continue in Marivan in Iranian Kurdistan, with three more activists detained. The site claims more than 30 activists have been seized in the city in the past three months.

1035 GMT: Soft War Update. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi's Thursday announcement of "80 organisations" in the US pursuing regime change in Tehran is racing through Iranian media.

1025 GMT: Rooz Online offers an interesting addition to Monday's assassination of one nuclear physicist and wounding of another in separate car bombings.

Javan Online, the website linked to the political office of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, reported that --- at about the same time that Dr Majid Shahriari was killed and Professor Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani and his wife were injured --- a Peugeot 206 vehicle exploded in the Mahalati housing complex of Tehran, wounding a number of people.

Mahalati, in northeastern Tehran, is home to many members and commanders of the IRGC and their families live. 

Javan ended its report with “more details on the event will be posted accordingly”, but the article was removed a few hours later and there was no follow-up. 

Fars News subsequently posted a denial from Tehran police commander Hossein Sajedinia: “We have not received any report about an explosion in Mahalati housing complex.”

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