Last month, Iranian media reported that the men had been released, but Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister has said that they are still in the country, albeit in "perfect health".
The Free Syrian Army claims that five of the men are actually military snipers who were in Syria to assist President Assad's forces.
1845 GMT: Assurance of the Day. An Iranian official announces, “About 1,300 domestic and 350 foreign reporters working for 174 international media will provide coverage for the ninth election of the Majlis on Friday."
Which only leaves the question: how exactly will they be allowed to "provide coverage"?
In places like Qarchak, Iran’s ruling establishment expects people to help erase the memories of the fraught 2009 vote....
Voters in Qarchak...seem unaware of the rivalries between Iran’s top politicians. “I have never heard that there is a difference between Mr Khamenei and Mr Ahmadi-Nejad,” says Maryam, a 34-year-old housewife.
Qarchak residents say they will be voting according to tribal affiliation and that their choices will be based on who will best address the economic and social problems they face, including high rent, unemployment and drug addiction.
And Bozorgmehr has picked up on the emerging issue of whether Ali Larijani will remain Speaker of Parliament:
While [Larijani] appears to be assured of a seat in the 290-member legislature, analysts in Qom say, he is facing an uphill battle to repeat his showing of four years ago, when he received an absolute majority of the vote.
This time radical forces are mobilised against him, determined to deprive him of his position as Speaker....
“Mr Larijani will most probably be the winner in Qom, but that is not enough,” said one analyst in Qom. “He needs to gain at least as many votes as last time to keep his job.”
1455 GMT: Turnout Watch. While Iranian newspapers continue their psychic projection of election turnout (see 1435 GMT), Reuters offers a first-hand downer, "Key Constituencies Disillusioned as Iran Votes":
Like many members of Iran's paramilitary volunteer force, Mohammadreza Baqeri was a supporter of Iran's conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Nearly three years after Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election, the 27-year-old blogger says he will not vote for Ahminadejad's camp in parliamentary elections on Friday.
"I want new faces. I want a vocal parliament that can have an impact in the country," said Baqeri, a member of the Basij paramilitary force. "I want a parliament with young and ambitious lawmakers."
,,,,In the east of the city, Shaqayeq sits in her apartment drinking coffee.
The 37-year-old women's rights activist spoke about the difficulties for women in the current political environment and said she had given up waiting for change happen.
"I don't have much hope for reforms and reformists anymore," she told Reuters.
Although parliament has the power to pass laws on divorce, inheritance, child custody and other legal matters directly impacting women, previous parliaments have done little for women."
1445 GMT: Question of the Day. Quds Online reports that President Ahmadinejad's television speech for this week was cancelled because of the possible effect on elections. If so, who gave the order to keep him off the air?
1435 GMT: Psychic Elections Watch. Fars, which (in)famously announced in June 2009 --- before polls closed --- that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would win the Presidential election with 63% of the vote, has posted that turnout in tomorrow's Parliamentary ballot will be 65.5%.
In another psychic moment with possible significance, Jahan News has said that Gholam Ali Haddad Adel will top the poll in Tehran. Haddel Adel is expected to challenge current Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to lead the new Majlis.
Mohabat reports, however, that 13 Christian converts were arrested on 21 February in Kermanshah. Three are still held in an unknown location.
1415 GMT: The House Arrests. Fatemeh Karroubi, allowed out of her house arrest to pay condolences to a bereaved family, has said that she has not seen her husband, opposition figure and Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, in three months and she is very concerned about his health.
Both Karroubis were detained in February 2011, along with Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard.
1412 GMT: Rumour of Day. Kalemeh claims a report that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has ordered daily newspapers to publish election stories on the front page; otherwise, they face restrictions.
1316 GMT: Elections Watch. In a televised interview, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf has said that all the people in charge should be brave enough to say sorry to the people: No one will be humiliated by apologising...just like Imam [Khomeini] when he told people a couple of times that he had made mistakes."
Implicitly criticising President Ahmadinejad and the Government, Qalibaf said, "Unlike what some people have claimed, the Parliament is on top of the system. Everyone is eld responsible to follow and respect the law. Today's legal violations by people in charge mean they do not believe in Parliament ,and this is the path to dictatorship."
1315 GMT: Elections Watch. A special plea for participation in the Parliamentary vote....
The conservative political activist Abdolhossein Ruholamini, emphasising importance of Parliament in maintaining the country’s independence, asked for turnout "to change the dark atmosphere of the 2009 election into a brighter one".
Ruholamini was directly affected by the "dark atmosphere", as his son was detained and died from abuse at the Kahrizak centre.
The activist, who was campaign manager for Mohsen Rezaei in the 2009 election, said, "The events was so hard and upsetting that surely Ahmadinejad is partly responsible and to blame for them.”
1215 GMT: Even the Regime is Complaining. Good to see that our frustration with keeping up with so many different groups in the election is shared by Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani, the head of the Unity Front, "I came for a United Principlists Front but it turned into 13 lists, because some would not accept it."
1200 GMT: Elections (Boycott) Watch. Detained reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh has posted 13 reasons why Iranians should not vote tomorrow, including the failure to address the "coup election" of 2009, the continued illegal involvement in military and security forces in the elections, and the detention of political prisoners and house arrests of 2009 Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament has sharply criticised Ahmadinejad, saying "the Government does not have the right to ignore the law”. However, he stopped short of the impeachment call, saying that, while Ahmadinejad has negative points, "dismissal of the President has greater disadvantages; consequently we have to tolerate him".
Key MP Ahmad Tavakoli has said the current Government is the “champion of violations of the law" and condemned its economic policies for causing inflation and the currency crisis.
0950 GMT: A Real Election Debate. Leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli has called for investigations into the events after the disputed 2009 Presidential election. The statement has been welcomed by the children of Behzad Nabavi and Feizollah Arabsorkhi, leading reformists detained amidst the crisis. They said that their fathers as well as fellow political prisoners Mohsen Armin, Mostafa Tajzadeh, and Mohsen Aminzadeh are ready to debate publicly about those developments.
In the letter, the children suggested that the recorded debates should be presented, without censorship, through the websites Emrooz and Tavakoli's em>Alef.
0820 GMT: A Lively Election Moment. A snapshot of a debate at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Tehran University, involving "break-away" princplist Ali Motahari, Ahmadinejad supporters Hamid Rasaei and Zohre Elahian, and Ghasem Ravanbakhsh....
Students clapped in support of Motahari and booed Rasaei and Ravanbakhsh, as Motahari said that the main reason behind increasing protests and slogans against the Supreme Leader is the way dissenters are treated: "We did not allow protestors to march and express their opposition. They were beaten up and arrested and on 20 June , 40 to 50 people were killed."
When Rasaei responded, “Even the BBC doesn’t say this”, he was booed, while Motahari's "the number of people killed was much higher than this" brought applause.
Motahari pressed, “Even the Pprophet allowed people to criticise him, so how is it that some people think that we should not criticise supreme leader?" Rasaei tried to move the discussion to the "sedition current". The students shouted, “Liar, stop talking."
0800 GMT: Here a Slap, There a Slap, Everywhere a Slap, Slap. A clip from Iranian State TV summarising the regime's push on Thursday of a high voter turnout giving "a harsh slap in the face of arrogant imperialism" and "putting its nose in the sand" --- featured are the Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollahs Makarem Shirazi and Nouri Hamedani, and Minister of Interior Mostafa Mohammad Najjar:
0750 GMT: (Mis)Understanding the Elections. Ivan Watson's article for CNN (see 0720 GMT) also illustrates the difficulties of understanding and reporting Iranian politics, even for a correspondent in Tehran:
Iranian analysts said the Principalist Front represents one of the leading groups of candidates. It faces a challenge from a group of Ahmadinejad supporters who announced the creation of their ballot list, the Monotheism and Justice Front, just days before the election.
1. There is no "Principalist Front" as such. There is a "United Front of Principlists (Unity Front)", led by Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani, which tried and failed to bring all the conservative/principlist factions together.
2. The "Monotheism and Justice Front" is not a leading faction in this campaign, even if those behind its sudden creation are sympathetic to the President. The far more significant group is the "Islamic Constancy/Resistance Front", led by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.
Watson's article compounds the misunderstanding with the superficial spin of players in the game, such as the Ahmadinejad ally Zohreh Elahian, "We view all the principalists as members of one family," followed by Watson's diversionary line, "Any possible divisions within the ruling conservative government fade rapidly, however, when confronted by Iran's greatest adversaries, the United States and Israel."
We will have a Beginner's Guide tomorrow setting out the political groups and positions. Meanwhile, see our analysis this morning on the state of the campaign.
0720 GMT: Tomorrow brings the first round in the Parliamentary elections. We offer a snap analysis, "Who is 'Winning' These Elections?": "We do not know. And we will not know for some time to come. But we do know that if a high turnout in the vote does not materialise, then all will suffer a blow to legitimacy."
Ivan Watson of CNN, in Tehran, testifies to that assessment, in what he does and does not say in this article:
Iranian state television broadcast wall-to-wall programming encouraging voters to cast their ballots.
With slogans like "Our progress in science and economics depends on your vote," the publicity campaign included an oft-repeated quote from the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, saying, "The measure of a nation is its vote."
But out on the traffic-clogged streets of Tehran, some Iranians appeared less than enthusiastic about the election.
At the Al Javad Mosque where young men were handing out campaign leaflets, an elderly man confronted a passing turbaned cleric, yelling "Why should we vote?"
When a CNN reporter asked another man about the election, he hurried away, saying "I'm not going to vote, so I'm afraid to talk."
"I don't want to take part in this election," said another young man, who asked not to be named. Asked why he was boycotting the vote, he answered, "Everyone has his own viewpoint. For example, someone says 'I like the system.' Or someone says 'I don't. I'm the opposite of the system.' And that's why."
What Watson did not write on CNN's website, but what he offered on Twitter, was that after 15 minutes interviews, he and his crew were seized by Basij militiamen and held for three hours.
After his release, Watson conducted safer interviews with politicians. Alireza Marandi of the Unity Front spoke of the "spirituality & justice" of the election while Ahmadinejad ally Zohreh Elahian assured, "All principlists are members of one family."