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Sunday
Dec122010

WikiLeaks War-on-Terror Special: How the US Pressured Germany To Drop the Khaled al-Masri "Rendition" Case

At the end of 2003 Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen,was abducted in Macedonia, flown to Afghanistan, and interrogated and allegedly tortured by the CIA for several months. He was released in May 2004 after high-level officials concluded he had been detained in error, probably because of the similarity of his name to that of an al-Qa'eda operative. 

In February 2007, amidst growing pressure for legal action against those responsible for the abduction and abuse of el-Masri, the Deputy Chief of the US Mission approached Germany's Deputy National Security Advisor: "Our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German Government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S."

Yesterday, almost four years after that meeting, a German court rejected el-Masri's lawsuit seeking to force the German government to prosecute the American operatives involved in his kidnap and interrogation.

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Sunday
Dec122010

The Latest from Iran (12 December): Messages, "Confessions", and Those Behind Bars

2035 GMT: Economy (Oversight) Watch. Kalemeh reports that the Central Bank has not published data on economic growth for 28 months.

Economist Mohsen Renani, in comments published in the conservative Aftab, has alleged that academic studies on effects of subsidy cuts are censored and media are not allowed to publish data. He asserts that subsidy cuts will stop development for several generations and cause social crisis.

MP Hassan Ghafourifard chimes in, warning the Govt does not know how to implement subsidy cuts.

2030 GMT: The Battle Within. Meanwhile, even as Ayatollahs Mahdavi Kani and Mesbah Yazdi declare that unity will emerge amongst principlists, the feuding within the establishment continues. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has lashed out at former Minister of Justice Gholam-Hossein Elham, who criticised the prosecutor for supporting sedition. Doulatabadi responded that "obviously a new fitna movement is taking shape" within the system.

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Sunday
Dec122010

Iran Video: Sakineh's Latest "Confession" --- The Press TV "Documentary"

This week we have followed the confusing story in which Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death for adultery and complicity in the murder of her husband, had wrongly reported to have been freed from prison.

The reality was that Ashtiani and her son Sajad Ghaderzadeh, who has also been detained, were taken to the family home so they could not only film "confessions" but also carry out a reconstruction of the murder for a "documentary" on Iran's Press TV.

Part 1 of 3

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Sunday
Dec122010

Iran "Gold Medal" Feature: The List of More than 100 Detained Journalists

This week the Committee to Protect Journalists announced that 145 journalists were in prison in 2010. Iran and China led an ignominious list with each having 34 reporters behind bars. 

We suspected, however, that Tehran may actually have claimed the gold medal for detentions. So we turned to Arshama3's Blog, which has maintained a comprehensive list since autumn 2009.

We asked Arshama for an update and received this list. While further information is needed in some cases, it appears that more than 100 journalists are in prison today, with others facing a return to serve sentences that have been handed down:

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Sunday
Dec122010

Israel-Palestine Video and Transcript: Hillary Clinton "The Parties Have a Long Way to Go" 

On Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the Saban Center in Washington DC. The video is in three parts throughout the transcript.

PART 1 OF 3

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Sunday
Dec122010

Turkey-Israel Analysis: Ankara's "Win-Win" Strategy Does Not Bring Reconciliation...Yet

This is the pursuit of Turkey's "strategic depth", developed by Foreign Minister Davutoglu, through "strategic parts", in this case, a method to solve problems --- eventually --- while maintaining stature after the red alert in relations with West Jerusalem.

But tension cannot be sustained forever. So who gives first? Israel's Netanyahu government or the Erdogan camp in Turkey?

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Sunday
Dec122010

Iran Document: Mousavi's Call for The Religious Month of Moharram

UPDATE 1650 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi has also made a number of interesting comments in an interview with Gholam Sabz. We have posted the highlights in our Sunday updates.

It is our responsibility to tell the truth and erode the mortar that holds the palace of lies together. It is our everlasting responsibility to keep alive the memory of high-statured martyrs of the Revolution, the war, and the events after the [2009] election with the noble women and men in the prisons, just like all the family of Imam Hossein. And it is our responsibility to help protect the traditional social centers by organising and attending the ceremonies for commemorating the epic of Ashura [on 16 December] in this memorable month.

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Saturday
Dec112010

WikiLeaks Debate: Publication of Classified Information --- Dangerous or Valuable? (Wolff v. Lucas)

STEFAN WOLFF: Misguided, irresponsible, reprehensible—these are just some of the words used by critics to describe the latest set of releases on the website, WikiLeaks. But is this more than hurt pride and should we really care one way or the other?

SCOTT LUCAS: WikiLeaks is not an angel in this story. It, along with the media outlets posting its cables, is a participant in a new environment in which we can be empowered through access to information. The issue here is not a threat to national security or a threat to diplomacy, but whether we allow a the Government to re-assert unchecked and unquestioned control.

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Saturday
Dec112010

WikiLeaks and Iran 2007: "The President is a Puppet of the Leader"

In April 2007, an MP and senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front offers some provocative comments on Iranian politics to the US Consulate in Dubai.

Supreme Leader Khamenei aspires to become the "emperor" of the Islamic world and is willing to sacrifice Iranian national interests for this goal. He sees President Ahmadi-Nejad as merely a puppet of the Supreme Leader, under the leader's complete control. Ahmadi-Nejad, in turn, sees more pragmatic conservatives such as [Speaker of Parliament Ali] Larijani and [Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer] Qalibaf as his main rivals.

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Saturday
Dec112010

The Latest from Iran (11 December): Using Sakineh to Denounce Activists and Lawyers

1835 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Shargh reports that the electronics firm LG, after US pressure, has left Iran for Dubai and that Samsung may follow soon.

1830 GMT: Budget Chat. Video has been posted of the meeting of the Expediency Council meeting, in the presence of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, on the 5th Budget Plan.

1700 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The family of Reza Shahabi, the treasurer of the Tehran Bus Workers' Union, says he is still in prison two months after bail was posted.

The Union calims Shahabi was to be released on 11 October 11 after his family posted bail of 60 million tomans ($57,103). The family said it agreed to pay an additional surety of 100 million tomans (about $100,000).

Shahabi's brother Hassan told Radio Farda, "They say he is not going to be released for certain reasons," but no one has disclosed what those reasons are.

Shahabi has reportedly started a hunger strike.

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