2115 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Activist and blogger Laleh Hassanpour has been sentenced to five years in prison, four of them suspended.
Sarah Mahboubi, a Baha’i student from Sari, has been banned from university and sentenced to 10 months in prison for "membership in an anti-revolutionary Facebook site“.
1855 GMT: Cats and Dogs Watch. Iran's Parliament is discussing a law to prohibit keeping dogs and cats as pets because they are "unclean and dangerous".
1630 GMT: Camp Ashraf Latest. The US military has said that the Iraqi Government continues to block the provision of humanitarian aid to Camp Ashraf, where security forces killed at least 15 Iranian exiles in a Friday raid.
A spokesman for the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, which has many members in the camp and which is committed to the overthrow of the Iranian regime, said the death toll was 33, including eight women.
1625 GMT: Energy Alert. The head of Parliament's Homeland Security Commission, Parviz Sarvari, has blamed terrorist groups for Friday's explosions damaging three gas pipelines in Qom.
1620 GMT: Nowruz Watch. Another swipe at the Government over its curbed plans for New Year celebrations last month, and this time for conservative quarters --- Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi has said that Nowruz festivals do not help export Islam.
The Government had planned for a mass ceremony at Persepolis, the seat of ancient Persia, but pulled back after severe criticism over the cost and appropriateness of a festival where the late Shah had held a lavish gathering in 1971.
1530 GMT: Economy Watch. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, meeting with the members of the conservative Motalefeh Party, has criticised the Government, saying that Iran's economic growth is lower than the world average and state projects do not help.
1520 GMT: Press Watch. The conservative Ayande News, a prominent on-line source for Iran news, has still not been updated since 9 March.
1220 GMT: Foreign Affairs. In the escalating row over claims of Iranian espionage as well as regional tensions, Kuwait has expelled three of Tehran's diplomats and Iran has responded by throwing out three Kuwaiti Embassy personnel.
1210 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. Taking another look at the important but confusing story that Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai has stepped down from his post in President Ahmadinejad's office --- a valued colleague points to Iranian newspaper JameJam and writes us:
I think semantics, bad translations, misunderstandings, have tainted this story. Mashai holds over a dozen positions and until today he also held the position of 'sarparasteh nahadeh riasat jomhouri' or roughly 'supervisor of the office of the president', as well as that of Ahmadinejad's chief of staff.
[Hamid] Baghaei, who happens to be very close to Mashai and replaced him at the Cultural Heritage Organization, today replaced Mashai as supervisor of the office of the President (a position whose importance has been bolstered during the Ahmadinejad years because the office has taken on many responsibilities which used to be the province of ministries or state bodies), but he did not replace him as Chief of Staff (raiseh daftar). Some analysts believe this frees up Mashai to prepare for the 2013 elections and in some ways strengthens his position even more.
Yet, amidst the confusion over the exact nature of Rahim-Mashai's move, this is significant reinforcement for the conclusion we offered yesterday:
has Rahim-Mashai, who is reportedly pursuing a 2013 Presidential bid, sudden fallen, finally taken down by vocal critics within the Establishment?
Not so fast. Observers are quick to point out that Rahim-Mashai still retains a great deal of influence through at least 15 other Government posts, and even Press TV puts out an un-subtle clue that the new Chief of Staff, Hamid Baghaei, "is close to Rahim-Mashaei who has been criticized by many Principalists for his beliefs and controversial remarks".
And, of course, not having to deal with the official tasks of being Chief of Staff --- as well as anointed ones like being Ahmadinejad's envoy for foreign affairs --- frees up Rahim-Mashai to pursue Presidential ambitions.
1105 GMT: Foreign Affairs. Pro-Ahmadinejad MP Rouhollah Hosseinian has declared that Iran should prepare its army to confront a Saudi invasion.
1100 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Political activist Javad Vafaei-Basir, who worked in the Mousavi campaign, has been sentenced to three years in prison and 75 lashes.
1050 GMT: Shutting Down the Attorneys. Karim Lahidji, Vice-President of International Federation for Human Rights and President of the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights has called on the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to investigate Tehran: “Arresting and persecuting lawyers is another dimension of the total disregard of the Iranian authorities for due process, and standards of fair trial. The authorities are punishing the human rights lawyers and trying to reduce the number of the lawyers who are prepared to defend victims of the overtly flawed judicial system, in particular the human rights and women’s activists, the trade unionists and student activists."
Five lawyers, such as Houton Kian and Nasrine Sotoudeh, sentenced to 11 years, are already in prison. At least six others are facing possible imprisonment and a ban on practising their profession. A number of others have spent time in detention or been expelled from university posts (see 0625 GMT), and some others, Mohammad Mostafaei, have had to leave the country to avoid harassment and detention.
Ghasem Sholeh Saadi is the latest detained lawyer and law professor, arrested after a domestic flight from Shiraz to Tehran and taken to Evin Prison last Sunday.
1045 GMT: The Battle Within. Conservative MP Ali Motahari has resumed his campaign against the Government, accusing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of "abandoning the ideals” of Ayatollah Khomeini and subscribing to the ideas of his confidante and aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.
Fars claims that Motahari has written Ahmadinejad about deception in the 2005 and 2009 Presidential elections: “You did not clarify that you were a follower of Mr. Mashai and that you hold such particular thoughts on Norooz, the Iranian school of thought, the issue of the hijab and cultural matters in general."
1000 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. More evidence that Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, despite reportedly stepping down as President Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff, is stepping up his Presidential campaign for 2013 --- Al Arabiya claims from "informed sources" that Rahim-Mashai has started a widespread press programme with several dailies and magazines.http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/04/09/144852.html
0715 GMT: Energy Mystery. Iranian officials say that three major gas pipelines in Qom, damaged in explosions on Friday, have been repaired. However, there is still no word on the cause of the incident, and an enquiry has been ordered.
0705 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Cultural activist and writer Mohammad Javad Mozaffar has been summoned to Evin Prison to serve a one-year sentence.
0625 GMT: We open this morning with two portraits from the ongoing regime suppression of dissent.
Attorney Mohammad Sharif, dismissed as Professor of Law at Allameh Tabatabaei University this week, has told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:
I think working on human rights cases was the reason for my dismissal, because there was no other incident to cause this. Though I’ve represented numerous individual rights and public freedom cases, I have always tried to remain within the framework of laws I did not believe in, and I never left that framework. I have been a law-abiding lawyer. I seldom gave interviews, and to the extent possible, I avoided talking to foreign media so that I could continue my services.
After the disputed 2009 presidential election, Sharif represented political and civil activists who were arrested, including Ahmad Zeidabadi, Shiva Nazar Ahari, and Masoud Bastani.
Sharif said, “My livelihood came from my university salary. I exclusively worked on human rights cases which don’t generate income. My only income was this salary, which is now cut off. I will face severe problems for my livelihood now.” His dismissal disqualified him from the pension he could have had for 25 years of teaching.
Sharif joins the list of experienced faculty at Iranian universities in Iran who have been dismissed or forced to retire since last year. Among them are Morteza Mardiha, Seyed Ali Asghar Beheshti Shirazi, Mohammad Shahri, Amir Nasser Katouzian, Karim Mojtahedi, Ali Sheikholeslam, Hassan Bashirieh, Mohammad Erfani, Abolghassem Gorji, Jamshid Momtaz, Mohammad Reza Shafiee Kadkani, and Reza Davari.