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The Latest from Iran (24 June): The Net Closes on Ahmadinejad's Men....Continued

2005 GMT: Parliament v. President The head of Parliament's Article 90 Commission, which oversees Government activity, has said that a report on 18 violations of the Constitution by President Ahmadinejad will be read out in the Parliament this week.

Mohammad Ebrahim Nekounam said the violations include refusing to provide a budget for the Tehran Metro, failing to prepare the Ministry of Oil's article of association, and refusing to announce the establishment of the Ministry of Sports and Youth.

Nekounam said Ahmadinejad must answer questions about the constitutional violations.

1920 GMT: The Hunger Strikes. Kalemeh reports that five hunger strikers at Evin Prison --- Adbollah Momeni, Mohsen Aminzadeh, Abolfazl Ghadyani, Bahman Ahmadi Amoui, and Mehdi Karimiyan Eghbal --- have been transferred to the infirmary for treatment.

The five are among 12 political prisoners who are in the seventh day of the hunger strike, which protests the deaths of activists Haleh Sahabi and Hoda Saber and the general conditions in detention.

1710 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Photojournalist Maryam Majd, who was detained last Thursday as she was about to fly to Germany to cover the Women's World Cup in football, has been transferred to solitary confinement in Evin Prison.

1400 GMT: Reconciliation Watch. The public relations office of Parliament has denied that Speaker Ali Larijani met secretly with reformists to discuss next March's Parliamentary elections. The office said it will file a complaint against Iranian Students News Agency for publishing the report.

1330 GMT: The Battle Within. MP Zohreh Elahian has said the files of Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai and Vice President Hamid Baghaei will be investigated.

Elahian's comments follow the arrest of Rahim-Mashai ally Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh for financial corruption.

Meanwhile, Khabar Online reports that MPs are taking aim at caretaker Minister of Energy Mohammad Aliabadi for being unqualified and failing to "distance himself from the deviant current".

1320 GMT: Human Rights Watch (Friday Prayers Edition). Looks like some clerics have caught the human rights bug....

In Qom, Ayatollah Hosseini-Bushehri has declared, "The judiciary should not bargain with people's rights but should guarantee justice and security in society."

And in Tehran, Ayatollah Emami Kashani has explained, "Nobody is allowed to slap a prisoner in the face or insult him."

However, Ayatollah Alamolhoda is having none of this. In Mashhad, his message is that "mannequins caused bad hijab", and the "fashion industry has become the nameless soldier of the US to disturb moral security of society".

The ayatollah continues that in Turkey thousands of Iranian women were hired to dress lewdly and hold parties at home to promote the industry.

1315 GMT: Genie Watch. "Hard-line" MP Hossein Fadaei, who has close ties to the Revolutionary Guards, has warned that "djinns are everywhere", even in Parliament and Government.

1200 GMT: The Battle Within. Ayatollah Alamolhoda, the Friday Prayer leader in Mashhad, has explained, "Deviances have occurred. The Supreme Leader directs action against them, even if he had supported this current before."

0920 GMT: Prison Watch. Letters written by prisoners and their families have alleged that prison guards in Iran are giving condoms to inmates and encouraging them to rape young opposition activists.

locked up with them,

In a letter to an official body monitoring prisons, 26 prominent political prisoners, including former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, prominent reformist Mohsen Mirdamadi, and activist Behzad Nabavi, have accused the Ministry of Intelligence and Revolutionary Guards of harassing prisoners with unlawful tactics that included sexual assaults

An unnamed family member said, "During exercise periods, the strong ask for sex without any consideration. Criminals are repeatedly seen with condoms in hand, hunting for their victims. If the inmate is not powerful enough or guards would not take care of him, he will be certainly raped. Prison guards ignore those who are seen with condoms simply because they were given out to them by the guards at first place."

0750 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Tina Rosenberg profiles Arash and Kamiar Alaei, the AIDS specialists imprisoned by Iranian authorities. Kamiar has now been freed and lives in the US, but Arash continues to serve a six-year sentence.

0740 GMT: The Battle Within. Majid Mohammadi assesses the internal situation, concluding that arrests will continue if President Ahmadinejad does not stop filling important posts with "cronies".

He adds this point for us to consider. Because Ayatollah Khamenei does not trust other "hardliners" in the Iranian system, the Supreme Leader will have problems in filling key positions.

0520 GMT: Claimed footage of a protest at Semnan University on Thursday over the detention of a student activist:

0515 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. More than 160 physicians have written the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, to request an inquiry into the causes of the deaths of activists Haleh Sahabi and Hoda Saber.

Sahabi died on 1 June after she collapsed during a confrontation with security forces who were trying to disperse her father's funeral procession. Saber passed away in detention from a heart attack during a hunger strike, prompted in part by Sahabi's death. Witnesses claim he was beaten and denied medical care.

0510 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Syrian Front). Ayatollah Dastgheib has denounced "sending the national wealth to Syria to be spent on suppressing the Syrian people, rather than spending it for the people".

0505 GMT: Elections Watch. On Wednesday, we pondered over the announcement that the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, Mojtaba Zolnour, was being moved from his post. Zolnour has become one of the point men in the criticism of the President's advisors --- was he being punished for "slander", as pro-Ahmadinejad sites claimed, or was he taking on a new role?

Yesterday Zolnour confirmed that he stepped down to run for Parliament in next March's elections.

0500 GMT: The Hunger Strikes. Thursday's major development in the hunger strike of 12 political prisoners at Evin Prison, now in its seventh day, was the announcement by six detainees at Rajai Shahr Prison that they were joining the strike.

Alumni activist Hassan Asadi Zeidabadi, one of the 12 at Evin, defined the reason for the protest:

It is not in our power to ignore so much lying. We have gone on hunger strike to prove that they cannot forget the political prisoners and find a solution for the problem by eliminating the problem itself. What we say is that our offenses are neither [the standard charges of] gathering, nor disturbing the public's mind, nor spreading lies; rather, our offense of and that of our other friends is our bravery in criticizing the injustice done to the people, it is recounting the violations of human rights.

0440 GMT: Last month EA staff posted an analysis of the strategy of President Ahmadinejad's foes. They would "box in" the President, blocking his moves to expand his powers and maintaining public criticism of his Administration. Then they would pick off his advisors one by one through dismissals and arrests.

And so it proved again Thursday. Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, a close ally of Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, had already been forced to withdraw his name as the new Deputy Foreign Minister. Now he was being detained on charges of financial corruption. 

And it was not just Malekzadeh, as Ali Asghar Parhizkar, the managing director of Arvand Free zone and a long-time friend of Rahim-Mashai,  was arrested.

By the end of the day, Aftab News was getting to the heart of the matter:

Will Ahmadinejad stay home again to protest the arrests, or will he ask the Supreme Leader to order the release of his close aides? If he chooses the first option, it will have terrible consequences for him. If he chooses the alternative, what will that mean, given what he did in the episode regarding the firing of Minister of Intelligence Heyday Moslehi, his reinstatement by the Supreme Leader, and Ahmadinejad's resistance?

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