Entries in Hoshyar Zebari (8)
Reuters was charged after a story in March briefly carried a headline characterising women training in ninjutsu as "assassins". The bureau was closed, as the press cards of staff were confiscated. Some observers saw a pretext for the authorities to shut down one of the few international agencies reporting from inside Iran.
Sentencing is expected within a week.
President Assad and Manaf Tlass in the 1990s (see 0515 GMT)
1909 GMT: Syria. A significant development in the battle north of Aleppo. Many activists, including some of our more trusted sources, report that the Free Syrian Army has successfully ambushed a military convoy on the highway between Turkey and Aleppo city. What's even more significant is that the FSA appears to have captured some of the vehicles and weapons, as well as what appears to be an oil tanker, after the ambush.
Is Iran pulling back from the nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China), only nine days before they were supposed to begin?
We thought the discussions had been agreed for Istanbul. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the meeting would be in Istanbul. The Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, had said Istanbul.
All of us may have been wrong.
A video illustrating that, despite reports of juveniles tried in military courts (see 0847 GMT), all Egyptian children love the ruling armed forces
2040 GMT: According to the Locall Co-ordinating Committees of Syria, the Assad military has begun an assault on the town of Saraqeb in Idlib Province:
Idlib:Saraqeb: The regime's army continues to encircle the city amid a widespread deployment of tanks in the southern part, where continuous gunfire and explosions were reported. The regime's army has also surrounded hospitals to deny entry to the wounded; this led residents to treat the wounded in field hospitals along the city's perimeter. Electricity is still cut off for the fourth consecutive day.
The regime's arrest campaigns are still ongoing as well, and the number of detainees is now in the hundreds. Moreover, residents cannot bury the martyrs who fell during the days-long regime siege on Saraqeb because of the continuous shelling and bombardment. The random shelling has also damaged the Information Office, which therefore cannot post any videos that document the harsh reality in the area
The curiosity of Prime Minister Erdogan's statement was in its emphasis. Instead of a focus on operations against the Kurdish Communities’ Union (KCK), with the arrest of hundreds of Kurdish politicians, or ongoing military action against PKK militants, Erdogan implicitly blamed “external powers” for using PKK.
Doing so, he was trying to divert the public’s attention from domestic political debates. But this is also a move in foreign policy: according to many experts, columnists, and academics in Turkey, Erdogan is targeting Iran and Syria.
2000 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Hadi Hamidi Shafigh, an ethnic right activist and member of the Azerbaijan National Movement, has reportedly been detained on the eve of his wedding.
Last month Shafigh was sentenced to six months imprisonment and 60 lashes for demanding Azerbaijani lunguage rights. He was chanting the slogan, "We want to study Azerbaijani language" during a football match in Tabriz on 1 May.
Shafigh has been arrested on several occasions dating back to 2006 and expelled from university.
2220 GMT: Academic Corner. Rooz Online writes that distinguished sociologist Gholam Abbas Tavassoli has been forcibly retired by Tehran University.
1830 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Munich chapter of United4Iran notes an appeal in Bild am Sonntag, made by 100 prominent Germans, for the release of two of the newspaper's staff from an Iranian prison.
Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch were detained in October as they were interviewing the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned to death for adultery.
1745 GMT: Corruption Watch. This could get nasty....
According to Rah-e-Sabz, 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has struck back at political punishment and/or a trail on corruption allegations. He said that Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani had received large amounts of money during his Presidential campaign in 2005.