1858 GMT: Currency Watch. Despite the Central Bank's promises to strengthen the value of the Iranian currency, the rial is still 1250 to $1 on the free market, as opposed to an official rate of 1056:1.
Entries in Josh Fattal (42)
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1655 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. In the latest incarnation of "Don't Blame Me", Iran's Inspector General Mostafa Pourmohammadi has declared that his office knew about the $2,6 billion bank fraud and told the Central Bank. He claimed that the fraudsters failed to launch an "Aria Bank" for their embezzled funds and, with their failure, their crimes became evident.
1935 GMT: Corruption Watch. More on Mohammad Reza Zonouzi, the "crony" of Ahmadinejad whom Ayande claims may be involved with a fraud much bigger than the current $2.6 billion bank embezzlement scandal (see 1810 GMT)....
Zonouzi reportedly has dozens of companies in Azerbaijan, includig Bonab Steel Company, Tabriz Steel Company, and other large trusts.
1925 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Prominent conservative cleric Hojatoleslam Jafar Shojouni, who launched a series of verbal assaults on the President;s camp in April, is at it again --- he has told a Lebanese newspaper that the Iranian system agreed behind the scenes to keep Ahmadinejad in power for the last two years of his Presidential term, even though support for him has diminished.
US nationals Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, freed after 26 months in an Iranian prison, offer remarks in New York
1650 GMT: The US Hikers. Iran Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei has taken offence at the comments of US national Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, free on $500,000 bail each after 26 months in detention in Tehran, on their return to New York (see top of entry and 0445 GMT).
Fattal and Bauer said they had been held for no more than being Americans at a time of tension between the US and Iran and had described hearing the abuse of other detainees in Evin Prison. Mohseni-Ejei declared, "It's predictable, each time we release [people like] them, saying these words against Iran." He continued, "It is clear that these remarks are contrary to fact, and of course, we expected no more than this."
Mohseni-Ejei dismissed any political issue over the judiciary's delay in releasing Bauer and Fattal for more than a week after President Ahmadinejad told US media they would be freed: "Any individual may call for the arrest and freeing of a prisoner, but ultimately it is up to the judge who issued the warrant."
Fattal and Bauer's State-appointed lawyer Massoud Shafiee also was unhappy with the remarks of the two Americans --- it was "not true" that they had been mistreated in prison. He said, "If my clients contact me, as an Iranian national, I will definitely inform them of my protest at their baseless claims....Why have they made such allegations when their problem has been resolved and they have left the country?"
2035 GMT: Mohammad Ebrahim Nekounam, the head of Parliament's Article 90 Commission, has said that the file of 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, accused of involvement in a major insurance fraud, is still under scrutiny by the judiciary.
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2135 GMT: The UN Speech. An EA correspondent notes that, in his attention to the centuries-long perfidy of the West, President Ahmadinejad failed to mention the current issue of Palestine and its quest for statehood. Any significance?
What is definitely significant is the marker set down by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Council, over Ahmadinejad's signals that he would like a resumption of talks with the US: Boroujerdi that is not within the Government's power to decide Tehran's relationship with America.
1945 GMT: Analysis of the Day. Interesting that Press TV opened its de-brief of the Ahmadinejad speech not with praise for the address but by asking about the walkout by many delegates. And Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi ran with the theme:
I think it shows the intolerance that is dominant in the United States and in Europe...at least at the official level. They are unwilling to even listen to a person who has an alternative viewpoint, yet ironically the United States allows the Mujahedin-e-Khalq [MKO], the terrorist organisation, to rally outside the United Nations at the time of President Ahmadinejad's speech.
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Iran Interview: Ahmadinejad Defies the Judiciary over the US Hikers
Waiting for them were their families and Sarah Shourd, their companion who was also arrested in July 2009 on the Iran-Iraq border and was freed last September. She and Bauer are now engaged.
And how is this being played by Iran media? Well, here's a clue: the pro-Ahmadinejad State news agency IRNA has posted a set of 26 photos:
Another forum in New York for President Ahmadinejad to put out his talking points --- "Show me one dictatorship in the world that has not been supported by the United States government or some European governments" --- while knocking back any thought of violations of political, civil, and legal rights after his disputed 2009 re-election: "Don’t you distinguish between those protestors who have something to say and who have some demands, and those who set buildings on fire?"
Like NBC News' Ann Curry in Tehran a week ago, ABC News' George Stephanopoulos gets his prize in the opening exchange with the prospect of a release of the US hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer --- this time, it actually came true in the following 24 hours --- and then the rest of the interview is a broadcast wasteland.
Stephanopoulos is ill-prepared to follow up on some questions, such as the repression in Iran, and unable to to catch up with an evasive Ahmadinejad on others, such as Syria. While for once, this is an interview that doesn't put a priority on the nuclear issue, Stephanopoulos cannot even get the Iranian President to respond meaningfully on the US call for military communications with Tehran to avoid an accidental conflict --- Ahmadinejad shows his interviewer up, "You mean the US is in a Cold War with Iran? Is that what you mean?"
And there is even a gift tied with a bow for Ahmadinejad with Stephanopoulos' presentation of foreign-supported "regime change": "The Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said earlier this year that it’s just a matter of time before this revolution hits Iran. What did you make of that?"
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, thank you for joining us again. I want to begin with a topic that many Americans are interested [in], of course, the Americans, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer. Last week you raised a lot of hopes here in the United States saying they would be released in a couple of days as a humanitarian gesture. Many expected them to come back here with you. Yet they’re still imprisoned in Iran. Why?
We act upon whatever we say. And if we don’t want to act, we won’t say it. We didn’t make this decision under pressure. It’s a humanitarian decision. Although, a lot of people are in jail or in prison in American prisons, inside the United States, in Europe, on ships unfortunately there are a lot of people without having had the opportunity of a fair trial. And there are some Iranians who are imprisoned in the United States and did not have the opportunity of a full judicial review. But when we said we will release them, we will release them, as a humanitarian gesture.