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Entries in Mohammad Reza Rahimi (89)


The Latest from Iran (1 October): Problems with Banks and Oil

See also The Latest from Iran (30 September): Where's the President's Right-Hand Man?

1845 GMT: Cyber-Question of Day. So who is behind the fake BBC Persian website, with the lead story that its editor raped a female employee, but she returned to work?

1835 GMT: Do You Think the Supreme Leader Knows? Hours after Ayatollah Khamenei opened Tehran's International Conference on the Palestinian Intifada by denouncing the Palestinian Authority's leadership, including Mahmoud Abbas, and its approach to the UN for recognition of Palestinian leadership, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal sang a different tune, even in the cautious wording of the Tehran Times....

The article frames Meshaal's position as "the plan presented by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is worth mulling over", but in expressing his criticism that "the United States and the Zionists exposed their true face as they have started efforts to stymie the plan", the site portrays support for his Palestinian rival:

Meshaal said Abbas is resisting pressure exerted by the U.S. and Israel. “In this moment of history that the true face of the Zionists has been revealed, Mahmoud Abbas and our brothers in the Fatah movement as well as other independent figures should make efforts to achieve unity,” the Hamas political leader stated.

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The Latest from Iran (30 September): Where's the President's Right-Hand Man?

1955 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. MP Gholamreza Assadolahi has said the report on the $2.6 billion bank fraud will be sent next week to Parliament's Article 90 Commission, supervising Government activities. Assadolahi said only 1% of the money has been returned to Iran.

1950 GMT: Press Feud. The pro-Ahmadinejad website Doulate Ma throws a punch at the hard-line Kayhan, claiming it has not paid employee insurance for four years and owes 12 billion ($950 million) to social welfare funds.

1945 GMT: CyberWatch. Khodnevis reports that VPNs [virtual private networks], which allow remote access to central networks, are "slowly dying" in the country with most VPN accounts shut down.

An EA correspondent, with excellent sources in Iran, confirms the story.

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The Latest from Iran (26 September): Let the Battles Resume....

US nationals Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, freed after 26 months in an Iranian prison, offer remarks in New York

See also Iran Video Special: Mothers of Victims Sohrab Arabi & Neda Agha Soltan Respond to Ahmadinejad's New York Statements

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?"

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The Latest from Iran (5 September): It's the Economy, Stupid

See also Iran Snapshot: So How Does the Supreme Leader Spend His Day?

WikiLeaks and Iran Document: Why US Diplomats Suspected Fraud in 2009 Election
Iran Snapshot: A Protest With a Difference --- This One is by Kermanshah’s Basiji
Iran: Assessing Latest Cyber-Threat, Rogue Certificate Part 2
The Latest from Iran (4 September): Shrinking Lake, Growing Protests

0350 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist Nader Karimi Jooni, who has worked for Jahan-e-Sanat and Shargh, has been released 33 months after his arrest.

0335 GMT: When An Arrest is not an Arrest Watch. More from the slightly surreal press conference of Iran Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei (see 1430 GMT)....

Mohseni Ejei explained that opposition figures Mir Hossein Ejei and Mehdi Karroubi were not under arrest -- "staying at home", i.e., their strict house arrests, was to their benefit to prevent "other things".

The Prosecutor General then applied his logic to the detentions of youths for water games in parks in Tehran and Mashhad. These were "not crimes" but "immoral actions must be punished".

And other acts escaping punishment altogether? Nothing was being done in cases of bank fraud and an alleged $11 billion in oil money "missing" from Iran's foreign reserves.

0315 GMT: He's Back. The President's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, has accompanied Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the official visit to Tajikistan. It is Rahim-Mashai's first trip with Ahmadinejad in four months.

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The Latest from Iran (4 August): Harmony Breaks Out?

2040 GMT: Picture of Day. Journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi, released on 48-hour furlough from a six-year prison sentence, with his family:

2030 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA reports that journalist Isa Saharkhiz has had two years added to his prison sentences because of his "media activities".

Saharkhiz, detained in July 2009, will now serve five years.

Labour activist Ali Nejati has been sentenced to one year in prison.

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The Latest from Iran (23 July): A Furlough in Repression

1840 GMT: The Slain Scientist --- Confusion Alert. We have been working throughout the day on the initial report that the scientist slain today in Tehran was a 35-year-old "Professor of Physics" named Dariush Rezaei, as initially reported by Iranian media (see 1503 and 1530 GMT).

This led us to Dariush Rezaei, also identified as Dariush Rezaei-Ochbolagh, a faculty member at Mohaghegh Ardabili University (see 1600 GMT). However, there is a curiosity in Rezaei's profile --- he is listed as 46 years old.

(Mehr, however, do seem to have a consistent story, with Rezaei a 45-year-old professor at the University, which is in the city of Ardebil in northwest Iran.)

Now Fars and IRNA that the victim, named Dariush Rezaeinejad, is actually a postgraduate student in electrical engineering at Khaje Nasir University in Tehran. IRNA, from an "informed source", says Rezaeinejad was "cooperating with a number of universities and scientific centers".

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The Latest from Iran (16 June): Halting the Slide

2010 GMT: Public Service Announcement. I will be on the BBC's The World Tonight just after 2130 GMT, discussing the current political battle within Iran.

2005 GMT: Parliament v. President. MP Mohammad Dehghan has confirmed that Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani will lead a Parliamentary committee meeting with President Ahmadinejad next week over the merger of ministries.

1955 GMT: Two Years Later. More on the open letter from Tehran University's Islamic Association to the head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, demanding punishment for those who attacked university dormitories two nights after the 2009 Presidential election (see 1110 GMT)....

The Association notes that students who were detained in the raid are serving prison sentences while those who "ordered and carried out the attack" have not been brought to justice.

Plainclothes agents, riot police, and special units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps raided the dormitories. Iran's largest reformist student group claims five students were killed, but Iranian authorities have only said that "100 to 120 students were injured".

The exact number of students arrested and of casualties has never been officially released.

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The Latest from Iran (28 May): Ahmadinejad on the Ropes

Supporters of the Supreme Leader protest against the President's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai "Death to Deviant Mashai"

1600 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Mothers of Mourning have written an open letter calling for an investigation of the "terrible conditions" inside Iran's prisons.

The letter follows a series of revelations about overcrowding and the poor state of the facilities.

1555 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar has told Khabar Online that President Ahmadinejad tried to defy the Supreme Leader in a meeting with the Parliamentary and judicial branches over the merger of ministries. Ahmadinejad rejected the Guardian Council's decision, but in the end, the Council and the Supreme Leader had the final word.

And then the big message: Bahonar asserts that the Supreme Leader wants the Government to finish its term, which runs to 2013, but it must distance itself from the "deviant current".

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The Latest from Iran (23 May): The Net Closes on Ahmadinejad's Inner Circle

1530 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mousavi campaign activist Reza Safavi has been arrested in a raid of his home by six agents, with his computer and other items confiscated.

1515 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch (cont.). More on the unusual interview in which the President's son-in-law tears apart the President's advisors....

Mehdi Khorshidi says that the leader of "deviant group" --- presumably Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai --- never studied theology but dares to comment on religious matters. Indeed, Rahim-Mashai is so arrogant that he challenges Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who is esteemed by the Supreme Leader and has 30 years of experience.

Khorshidi continues that Rahim-Mashai has endeavoured to sabotage and eliminate useful people around Ahmadinejad, replacing them with his cronies.

And Khorshidi's reference to the "deviant group" splashing out money on "problematic" people such as actors? Well, in January, Hojatoleslam Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar, the head of the clerical faction in Parliament, noted Rahim-Mashai’s meeting with an Iranian actress, Hedyeh Tehrani, at the Presidential office:

Anyone with a bit of Principlist zeal will not approve of the lowly acts of the Head of the Presidential office. All Principlists especially the President’s true supporters are ashamed that such a character is running the office of the president.....I don’t know what an actress’s [photograph] exhibition has to do with the head of the presidential office that he has to fund it with $80,000 from the Treasury. These loans are handed out by him [Mashai] at a time when many farmers are struggling with repeated droughts and are starving. Yet the government refuses to give them a $1,000 loan.

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The Latest from Iran (10 May): Ahmadinejad's Welcome Distraction

1820 GMT: Book Corner. Radio Zamaneh reports that all works of the prominent author Ali Ashraf Darvishian have been removed from the Tehran Book Fair.

1810 GMT: Parliament Watch. Back from a break to summarise latest developments in the tug-of-war between Parliament and the Government.

On Monday, the Majlis finally confirmed the 2011/12 Budget --- after a debate and delays of more than two months --- but the affirmation was far from resounding: only 144 votes of the 290 MPs voted for the package. There were 29 votes against, 12 abstentions, 23 "presents", and 82 absences.

Now a new battle is brewing: MPs, including Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, are claiming that the Government may be breaking the law in its plans for the merger of nine Ministries. On Monday, Parliament had warned that former Ministers could not continue to serve in the new Ministries.

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