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The Latest from Iran (22 September): Sedition and Treason

2055 GMT: Claim of the Day. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz offers a story which matches our analysis that the Obama Administration is looking to resume talks with Iran on the uranium enrichment issue and on other regional matters from the Middle East to Afghanistan:

Diplomats from the United States and Iran have begun initial contacts to examine the establishment of covert communication between the two countries.

Sources in New York told Haaretz that the two sides secretly convened at the United Nations headquarters in New York, as preparations continue for the UN General Assembly on Thursday. American and Iranian officials discussed a U.S. initiative to establish unofficial diplomatic relations.

2050 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Theology lecturer Ahmad Ghabel, who was recently returned to prison, has put out the message that his renewed detention is because of his revelations of widespread executions at Mashhad Prison.

2040 GMT: Economy Watch. An EA source passes us the following....

Jomhuriye Eslami Online quotes a member of  Parliament's Planning and Budget Committee who says Iran's foreign currency reserve has fallen below $10 billion.

Jabbar Kuchekinezhad said, in an interview with Fars News, that the conclusions of the report on the 4th Budget Plan (2005-2010) have been delayed again. He added, "Some elements of the Plan have not been implemented up to 80% and some others up to 100%; on the whole, deviations exist in more than 30% of the Fourth Plan."

Implementation of the 5th Budget Plan (2010-2015) has still not begun, six months into the Iranian year, because of disagreements between the Government and Parliament.

1900 GMT: Beating the Martyrs' Families. The daughter of Hamid Bakeri, a famous martyr from the Iran-Iraq War, said her mother suffered facial burns when the family was attacked by Basij militia when they tried to see Mehdi Karroubi today. Asiye Karroubi said her brother Ehsan, detained after the attack, had now been released.

1800 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Reports claim Navid Mohebi, an activist with the One Million Signatures campaign, has been beaten and arrested in northern Iran. 

Kurdish activist Mokhtar Houshmand has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Attorney Mohammad Mostafaei, now in Norway after Iranian authorities tried to arrest him, has published details of the abuse of his client, journalist and Karroubi advisor Hengameh Shahidi. Mostafaei claims Shahidi has been subjected to beatings, torture, and a mock execution.

The attorney writes:

Months passed before I was able to visit Hengameh Shahidi and have her sign the representation letter that officially make me her lawyer. I was able to study the case after a long time. From the first pages, the injustice and repression against her was evident. I got goosebumps when I studied the pages in her file and, at times, I burst into tears. I wondered how any person could be so vile and depraved to harass, abuse, and harm another human being. 

1650 GMT: Attacking the Martyrs' Families. Opposition websites such as Rah-e-Sabz and Kalemeh are reporting that Basij militia attacked the families of two famous martyrs of the Iran-Iraq War, Hamid Bakeri and Ebrahim Hemmat, as they tried to meet Mehdi Karroubi. Hamid Bakeri's son Ehsan was arrested.

The Bakeri and Hemmat families had tried to join reformist activists in a visit to Mir Hossein Mousavi but were prevented from doing so. Karroubi invited them by phone to come to his house, but they were met by plainclothes agents who sprayed them with tear gas.

On Monday, a letter from the wife of Hamid Bakeri, Fatemeh Amirani, to Revolutionary Guard commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, accusing him of treason because of involvement in the 2009 election "coup", was published (see 0735 GMT).

1600 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Student Edition). On the eve of the new University year, detained activist Majid Tavakoli has written an open letter to students calling on them to maintain their defense of freedom and opposition to tyranny.

1455 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. There are concerns that Nooshin Ahmadi Khorasani, editor of the Feminist School website has been arrested after she was to the Prosecutor's Office at Evin Prison.

1450 GMT: Russian Missiles Suspended. The chief of the Russian General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov, has announced, "A decision has been taken not to supply the S-300 [missile] to Iran, they undoubtedly fall under sanctions. The authorities decided to suspend the process of supplies." 

0835 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An appeals court has upheld the five-year prison sentence of Mehdi Mahmoudian, a leading member of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front.

0800 GMT: Economy Watch. Farhikhtegan reports that there are 19,583 unfinished industrial projects in Iran because of a lack of investment, machinery, and raw materials.

0755 GMT: Execution Watch. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs has offered this statement on the case of Hossein Derakhshan, the Iranian-Canadian blogger who faces a possible death sentence for espionage:

Since learning of Hossein Derakhshan’s arrest in November 2008, DFAIT officials have been in contact with Iranian authorities, including by diplomatic note and through high level meetings, to seek consular

Iran does not legally recognize dual nationality. As such, Canadian-Iranians are considered to be Iranian under local law. The consular assistance that may be provided by Canadian consular officials to Canadian-Iranian nationals is very limited....

Despite the Iranian government’s position, we consider Mr. Derakhshan to be a Canadian citizen. We will continue to press the Iranian authorities for access, as we have in similar cases involving dual nationals in other jurisdictions. Canada continues to urge Iran to fully respect all of its human rights obligations, both in law and in practice.

This week the prosecutor in Derakhshan's case demanded capital punishment. Derakhshan, commonly known as Iran's "Blogfather", was arrested on his return to Tehran from Canada in late 2008.

0735 GMT: We begin today by noting two very different assertions of bad behaviour. In a separate feature, we post Fereshteh Ghazi's revelation of a 110-page Revolutionary Guard report, based on surveillance and wiretapping, which claims a conspiracy led by Hashemi Rafsanjani to overthrow the Government and remove the Supreme Leader.

In contrast, the widow of a famous martyr, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander Hamid Bakeri, has accused the current IRGC of treason. 

Fatemeh Amirani, in an open letter to IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari published on Monday, describes the June 2009 Presidential election as a coup d'etat. She said Jafari had committed because of treason for the IRGC's role that takeover and in the repression of protesters.

Amirani wrote, "Why should one side [the government] have all the means of power and the other side [the people] be without any power? I never remember such disasters in the shah's time."

Hamid Bakeri is revered by many Iranians for his role and sacrifice in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

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