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Monday
Jan172011

The Latest from Iran (17 January): A Gift from a Political Prisoner to His Wife

2145 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mousavi campaign Poriya Mousavi has been arrested after a raid on the family home.

Economist Fariborz Reisdana has been released on bail.

Reisdana was arrested a month ago after he gave an interview criticising the Government's subsidy cuts.

1945 GMT: A Note to the President. MP Gholam Reza Mesbahi-Moghaddam has jabbed at the President over his failure to fulfil goals in the development plan and his "untrue" remarks about government achievements.

1810 GMT: Press Favourites. Khabar Online gives a kick to now-dismissed Deputy Minister of Culture Mohammad Ali Ramin by claiming he gave government subsidies to a nonexistent daily newspaper and that 40% of subsidies went to five pro-Government dailies.

1800 GMT: Academic Questions. MP Elyas Naderan, who continues to press the Government, has summoned the Minister of Higher Education and Science, Kamran Daneshjoo, to Parliament to ask about whether or not 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi's degree exists.

Daneshjoo's answer is not reassuring: he has not seen the supposed degree.

Ironically, Daneshjoo has also had to search for his degree, given questions about his claims that he graduated from a London university.

Meanwhile, Rahimi has responded over allegations of corruption by calling the MPs who have raised the issue as "sick".

1735 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. A series of releases on bail today: Detained attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, who was detained this weekend, and journalists Farzaneh Rostaei and Kayvan Mehregan, both of whom work for the newspaper Shargh.

1730 GMT: Suicide Noted, Suicides Unnoted. In the context of press attention to a wave of immolations in countries across North Africa, our attention is drawn to a little-noticed report last week that five pregnant women in Lorestan in western Iran set themselves on fire to protest conditions.

1705 GMT: Cartoon of Day (2). Nikahang Kowsar's poor journalist manages to notice events in Tunisia and ask the Supreme Leader: "Seyyed Ali, when will you go with Ben Ali?"

1540 GMT: Message from a Political Prisoner. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, head of the Democratic Front, has sent a message from Gohardasht Prison criticising the political and economic situation in the country, including the Government's subsidy cuts, and declared that the Green Movement is the only salvation for Iran.

Tabarzadi was sentenced in October to 9 years in prison and 74 lashes.

1515 GMT: Rahnavard Comments. Zahra Rahnavard, activist and university professor, ter, has condemned pro-government propaganda which accuses her of holding meetings with individuals with connections to the "terrorist" Mojahedin-e Khalq: “Fabricating charges and making up conspiracies --- that are shown in a new form every day --- have become the job of a sector of the government."

Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, asked,“If you have problems with Mousavi and me --- because we defend honestly, people’s rights, values of Islamic Republic, freedom and democracy –-- then why are you confronting others and torturing noble and defenseless people by different means for staying in power?”

1315 GMT: Round and Round We Go. The Supreme Leader has sent the dispute between Parliament and the Government over control of the Central Bank back to the Expediency Council for consideration.

The Parliament had passed legislation taking supervision of the Bank away from President Ahmadinejad, but the Government has refused to accept this.

1310 GMT: Cartoon of Day by Maya Nayestani in Radio Zamaneh:

1255 GMT: Qazvin Azad University student and Mousavi campaigner activist Adel Mohammad Houseini has been released on bail.

Babol Sanati University student and Mehdi Karroubi campaign activist Ahmad Mohamadnia has been given a six-month sentence, suspended for five years.

1140 GMT: Execution Watch. Has the death sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned for adultery and complicity in the murder of her husband, been commuted?

Iranian Students News Agency reports that Zohreh Elahian, the head of Parliament's Human Rights Commission, has written to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, "Stoning verdict of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has not been finalized and it is suspended at the moment, but she is sentenced to 10-year jail term."

The key passage appears to be Elahian's statement that the stoning is suspended because the family of Ashtiani's husband has forgiven her.

0835 GMT: A Fizzling Nuclear Tour. Tehran went ahead with its grand tour of nuclear facilties for foreign envoys on Sunday, even though it was not nearly as grand after the European Union, China, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and other countries declined the invitation. Press TV focuses on the declaration by Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, "The inspection of [nuclear sites] by world representatives is in line with Iran's policies to make its nuclear activities transparent".

The reference to those on the tour is muted, however: "Representatives from the IAEA, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Group of 77 and the Arab League arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Saturday for a two-day visit at the invitation of the Islamic Republic." IRNA is more enthusiastic, with the claim of representatives of 120 countries proving Iran's "goodwill" with their visit.

0830 GMT: We have posted Mehdi Karroubi's latest challenge to the regime, countering their campaign claiming "sedition", with his declarations, "We Will Surpass These Hardships".

0545 GMT: A different type of beginning for the updates. I'm sure we will be mentioning nuclear talks, sanctions, and political battles throughout the day, but this very brief note caught my eye on Sunday: "A gift, made in Evin Prison's Ward 350 [for political prisoners], from activist Emad Bahavar to his wife Maryam Shafiei". Look left and you'll see the present.

0530 GMT: A nice intersection of recent events in Tunisia and ongoing events in Iran in a poster intertwining the red Arabic (al-hurriyat) and green Persian (azadi) for "Freedom":

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