1556 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (European Front). Now it's Press TV being coy about the cancelled visit by the five members of the European Parliament, "The EP officials requested on Friday to meet two Iranian nationals, who have been sentenced to prison on charges of breaching Iran's national security."
1526 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (European Front). The English-language edition of Fars offers a very different account of why a visit to Tehran by five members of the European Parliament was cancelled (see 1218 GMT). It quotes MP Kazem Jalali, the head of the Iran-EU Parliamentary Friendship Group:
The trip was organized upon a demand by the European parliament and we agreed with their demand, but the European parliament gave up the visit with its unwise action which is not at all justifiable and the responsibility for the consequences of this move lies on that parliament....
The European parliament is under the influence of the Zionist regime when making some important decisions, and...since the very first day, the Zionist lobby voiced opposition to the EU delegation's visit to Iran and made the EU parliament call off the trip, and this shows the EU's lack of independence.
Fars continues with a statement by Parliamentary advisor, Hossein Sheikholeslam, "The European parliamentary delegation has set a precondition for visiting Iran and will not accept this prerequisite as it runs counter to our policies."
However, Fars coyly never mentions the "precondition": the five European MPs asked to see detained lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who is under threat of a six-year sentence --- the two received the EU's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought earlier this week. When Iranian officials refused, the European delegation cancelled its visit.
1323 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA claims that 60-year-old Zahra Mansouri, who suffers from epilepsy, has been summoned to serve two years in prison because of ties to her brother, also a political prisoner.
1317 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Royal Dutch Shell is trying to circumvent international sanctions to repay a $1.4 billion oil debt to Iran through a grain barter deal via US agribusiness giant Cargill, according to industry sources.
Shell wants to repay the debt because it is growing with unpaid interest. It is hoping to get clearance from US, UK, and Dutch authorities to fund Cargill to deliver enough grain to Tehran to clear the obligation.
“Shell wants to repay what it owes NIOC (National Iranian Oil Corporation). They want to maintain amicable relations for the day when sanctions are lifted,” said an industry source.
In the summer, London denied permission for Shell to pay Tehran direct via bank transfer. Sanctions bar European banks routing payments for oil back to Tehran.
Shaheed's latest report, presented to the UN this month, documented numerous examples of ongoing represssion and highlight the Islamic Republic's extensive use of the death penalty.
1248 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Brigadier General Gholam Ali Rashid the Deputy Chairman of the armed forces, has warned that the foes of the Islamic Republic will meet the same fate as executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his ousted regime if they attack Iran: “The enemies of the Iranian nation well know that if they choose aggression and military action against us, they will definitely make a strategic mistake in [their] calculation.”
And Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, the head of the Civil Defence Organization, has claimed that cyberthreats such as the Stuxnet and Flame computer viruses have been defeated, “These viruses had infiltrated into some sections, but they were detected and neutralized and no damage was inflicted from these viruses on the country’s sensitive centers.”
1218 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (European Front). A source at the European Parliament has confirmed Iran's cancellation of a visit by five Euro MPs: "The five MEPs were about to leave for Tehran when delegation chair (Tarja) Cronberg received a phone call from the Iranian ambassador to the EU, saying they would not be allowed to meet with the two Sakharov Prize winners," detained lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi.
European Parliament spokeswoman Satu Helin said, "After hearing the new conditions, the Iranians decided to cancel."
1142 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (European Front). Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times reports that the visit of an European Union Parliamentary delegation to Tehran has been blocked by Iranian authorities after the EU awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to detained lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and sentenced film director Jafar Panahi:
Iran official tells me EU visit cancelled following EU demand to meet Sakharov winners Sotoudeh/Panahi - this is the 3rd cancelled visit— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) October 27, 2012
0721 GMT: The Battle Within. According to Nameh News, Mansouri Arzi, a "praiser" who exalts the leaders of the Islamic Republic, has renewed his attack on President Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai: "I still believe that Mashai is of the 'Jewish people'."
Arzi was summoned to court for previous comments about the Presidential advisor, but he said his view was unchanged that Rahim-Mashai is an “infidel” and “Jew” who should be “lashed” and “jailed”.
0715 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Amid continuing flutters about the renewal of high-level nuclear talks after November's US Presidential election, State news agency IRNA notes a phone call on Wednesday between Ali Bagheri, Iran's deputy head of negotiations, and his counterpart for the 5+1 Powers, Helga Schmid.
0705 GMT: Opposition Watch. Persian Banoo publishes an English translation of an article about last week's meeting between opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, in the 21st month of their strict house arrest, and family members:
We met them in their home. We passed through two iron doors and barriers to reach the house. Mir Hossein Mousavi said, "I have not and will not withdraw from my position, I am still Green and stand behind the Greens."..
[Mousavi's sister] said, “They absolutely do not provide him any newspapers, and not much news reaches him. He does watch TV and based on what he sees he conducts his own analysis and makes his own conclusion. He is extremely concerned about the livelihood of the people. He is very concerned in this regard and says the people are under a lot of pressure.”
She adds, “He holds the same position as he did prior to his house arrest and holds steadfast on the rights of the people and has not changed in this regard."
0535 GMT: The beginning of the Eid al-Adha holiday brought a respite in the political in-fighting, with both the President's office and those of his critics, including head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani, falling silent on Friday. Instead the day was distinguished by a statement from the Supreme Leader's camp:
No one can disobey the decree of the Leader using the pretext that the decree is or may be a mistake....All the people, including the elites and experts, must obey the orders of the Leader.... Everyone is allowed to criticize the law or decrees of the Leader, but criticism is one thing and disobedience another, just as there is a difference between being critical and actively looking for excuses.
The declaration did not point to any specific troublemakers who had defied Ayatollah Khamenei, but it is safe to assume that the Green Movement and hundreds of detainees --- including four people arrested on Friday for "spreading propaganda" and "insulting officials" on Facebook --- were not the primary audience. Instead, after a week dominated by the Ahmadinejad-Larijani clash, talk of an interrogation of the President in Parliament, and squabbling over who is to blame for the country's economic troubles, the Supreme Leader's message is meant first and foremost for the officials claiming to serve the Islamic Republic.