Entries in Saeed Kamali Dehghan (6)
When Iranian student activist Arash Sadeghi was temporarily released from Tehran's infamous Evin prison in November 2010, he anticipated a little respite from a year of harsh beatings and agony in jail.
Instead, within a few days, security officials had raided his home in middle of the night. As they broke their way into the house, Sadeghi's mother, who was alone with her daughter, suffered a heart attack.
The officials continued their search as she laid unconscious on the floor, ransacking the house and trying to find Sadeghi, who was at his grandfather's house that night. When the officials left, Farahnaz Dargahi was taken to hospital. She died within a few days.
The idea of an international book festival in Tehran might sound incongruous. Leaders of the Islamic republic are no great book enthusiasts. Numerous writers are banned and as one of the world's most-censoring countries, Iran has a relatively low level of book reading.
But Tehran's international book fair, held annually in the first half of May, attracts half a million visitors per day. The figure is more than the number of people who visit Frankfurt Book Fair, which claims to be the biggest in the world, over its entire duration.
2030 GMT: Sanctions Watch (Syrian Front). This weekend we noted the claim of US officials that an Iranian company was shipping $84 million of Syrian oil to China, evading international sanctions on Damascus.
Now the Maltese Foreign Ministry has said it is delisting the Maltese-flagged, Iranian-owned tanker allegedly carrying the crude.
The M.T. Tour loaded the 120,000 tonne cargo of light crude at the Syrian port of Tartus last weekend.
This is the time of year when Iranians prepare for the most important holiday of the Persian calendar, Nowruz, the ancient Zoroastrian festival marking the spring equinox. Carpets are washed, furniture wiped down, tables set with painted eggs and children are bought new clothes. Family come to visit: there are many faces you get the chance to see only once a year.
This year, the 13-day family celebration which is meant to blow away the fatigue of winter is clouded by the fear of war, exhaustion and public anger caused by political discontent at home and western economic sanctions.
"How can I keep my head held high in front of my children with an empty pocket at this time of the year?" asked Mohammad, a 35-year-old high school teacher from Tehran with two sons. "I'm supposed to give them happiness and joy. Instead I feel ashamed at not being able to fulfil their expectations."
The Qaddafi regime carried out an extraordinary clandestine lobbying operation to try to stop NATO's bombardment of Libya, and believed the western allies were likely to launch a full-scale invasion in "either late September or October".
Secret documents in Tripoli seen by The Guardian reveal the desperate attempts made by the Libyan government in its final months to influence US and world opinion. It approached key international opinion formers from the US president Barack Obama downwards.
The regime tried to persuade the Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich --- a well-known rebel who voted against NATO military action in Libya, and opposed the Iraq war --- to visit Tripoli as part of a hastily arranged "peace mission". The Libyan government offered to pay all Kucinich's costs related to the trip, including "travel expenses and accommodation".