A poster calls for "Allahu Akbar (God is Great) on the night of 13 February for political prisoners such as Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Zahra Rahnavard
1745 GMT: Mohsen Rezaie, the head of the Expediency Discernment Council, today called US claims that it is responsible for security in the Strait of Hormuz as 'unacceptable'. He added that the Iranian government was the one responsible for the security of the waterway.
1715 GMT: Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani rejected accusations that he owns buildings in the Quds compound in Pardisan in Qom; however, he does own property that belonged to his father. Speaking to students in Qom yesterday, he said that he was running for the elections on advice from the Supreme Leader. In reply to a question, he said that Hashemi Rafsanjani like all other individuals had his merits and his flaws and he did not like some of the latter.Larijani is traveling to Mashhad later today to give a speech on the occasion of the anniversary of Iran's revolution.
1710 GMT: Hashemi Rafsanjani has upped his appearances with Supreme Leader Khamenei recently. He was present with the rest of the regime's main leaders on February 3rd on the occasion of the government-sponsored Islamic Unity conference. Besides Khamenei and Rafsanjani, others present included Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani as well as senior IRGC commanders.
1617 GMT:Government-run Fars News reports that Hamas leader and Prime Minister of Gaza Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Tehran today for a two-day visit. According to Fars, he is likely to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and other leaders. The report adds that certain countries like Kuwait and Qatar had tried to prevent the visit.
According to an informed source at the energy ministry, these Iranians were engaged in the construction of the first gas unit of Jandar Combined Cycle Power Plant in Syria before being kidnapped near the Syrian city of Homs on December 20.
Terrorist groups kidnapped the engineers under the false accusation of cooperating with Iran’s Islamic Revolution's Guard Corps (IRGC), said the report.We cannot independently verify that they have been indeed released and whether they are the same engineers that some claim were shown in an FSA video and claimed to be IRGC fighters. For more on this story, read our in depth investigation into the abduction.
1010 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The New York Times picks up the theme of India's trade as a possible salvation for Iran's constricted economy, noting the announcement of a large Indian trade delegation visiting Tehran in the near-future.
The website emphasises the statement of India’s commerce secretary, Rahul Khullar, “We will be mounting a mission to Iran at the end of the month to promote our own exports,” with his declaration that sanctions do not apply to “a vast range of products which India can export to Iran.”
However, in its headline and opening paragraphs, the Times, like The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, mentions but fails to appreciate fully the complication of currency arrangements, which has sharply reduced New Delhi's payments for imports of Iranian oil.
The possibility that India and Iran are setting up barter arrangements for the oil may be the real significance of the trade delegation's visit. “Iran will barter oil for food, oil for cars,” said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, an economist at Virginia Tech University. “They will find ways.”
0527 GMT: Protest Watch. The "Mothers of Laleh Park", the group who began gathering in 2009 to mourn the loss of loved ones and to protest the repression, has issued a statement calling for "the abolition of the death penalty; release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and fair and public trials for those who ordered and carried out killings and atrocities in the Islamic Republic".
Ghadyani is reportedly in serious condition with heart and prostate problems, and Rahimi said the health of many prisoners is in danger. She said she held the "top of the regime" responsible for the life of her husband.
0515 GMT: The House Arrests. As Fatemeh Karroubi faces a year of strict house arrest, she has said in an interview that her husband Mehdi, also detained, is optimistic about the future of the Green Movement. According to her, Mehdi Karroubi believes the time for dictatorships is over and there is no way other than respecting people and paying attention to their demands.
Fatemeh Karroubi said her husband is still in solitary confinement in an apartment and that the doctors who are taking care of him are all under the control and supervision of the intelligence service.
0500 GMT: We begin with an EA correspondent's report on the first debate for the Parliamentary elections on 2 March. The introduction of debates sparked enthusiasm and controversy before the 2009 Presidential vote; this time, the regime has decided to limit the occassions to radio.
In the discussion, former MP Emad Afrough and MP Ali Motahari, part of a break-away Principlist group, challenged the Goverment, while Hamid Rasaei and Ahmad Salek offered a defence.
Motahari went farther in criticism, chastising the regime for its harsh treatment of the opposition. He brought up 2009, saying that many people voted for "someone" (Mir Hossein Mousavi), and it was natural that they would complain and protest against a result that they thought was rigged. The behaviour and response of the regime was so bad, Motahari said, that it took the country into a crisis.
In reply, Hamid Rasaaei said those people on the streets were rebels and rioters who came to put the banks on fire. Therefore they had to be treated harshly.
The EA correspondent notes, "This programme concluded without a proper ending amidst a nervous and heated argument."