Not so long ago, my colleague Nasrin Sotoudeh was the lawyer so many of us human rights defenders in Iran would call when our government harassed us or put one of us, or one of our family members, in jail. Sadly it is now Nasrin who is in jail. The government's accusations against her include acting contrary to "national security", "propaganda against the state", and "membership" of the Center for Defenders of Human Rights, an organisation I founded in 2001. The government has also accused her of failing to wear hijab, the traditional Islamic covering for women. On some of these trumped-up charges she has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, and is now banned from practising law for 20 years.
Entries in Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (33)
Iran News Network claims that two former Ministers have asked for a staff from the Executive, legislative, and judicial branches to be organised to manage the country, effectively taking power from the Government.
Radio Farda suggests the two ex-Ministers could be Iran Inspector General and former Minister of Interior Mostafa Pourmohammadi and former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
Today Robert Tait of The Daily Telegraph of London adds a third name and the claim that the appeal was made to Ayatollah Khamenei:
Three of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's former ministers have called on Iran's supreme leader to form an emergency "government of all the talents" that will effectively curb the president's power.
Manouchehr Mottaki, the former foreign minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who served as interior minister, and Davoud Danesh Jafari, the ex-finance minister, have urged the radical move in a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, citing the country's "sensitive and critical situation".
It calls for the establishment of a special cabinet of "wise men" made up of the heads of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, which would then govern Iran for the next year until Mr Ahmadinejad's term ends.
Mr Ahmadinejad would be a member of such a body as head of the executive branch. But his powers would be diluted and prestige drastically reduced....
In an editorial, [pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper] Iran criticised the former ministers' note as an attempt "to portray the country's situation as critical and justify extraordinary approaches outside legal boundaries to resolve an artificial crisis".
2110 GMT: The Battle Within (Literally). More on Tuesday's fight on the floor of Parliament, with the manager of President Ahmadinejad's subsidy cuts, Behrouz Moradi, swinging at an MP....
Moradi, who was expelled by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani after the fight, reportedly called Parliament a "stable". Larijani has called for the prosecution of the official over the incident.
Nikahang Kowsar portrays President Ahmadinejad's preparations for the Parliamentary elections in March
2115 GMT: Unity Watch. A short summary has been issued from today's meeting of the head of the three branch of Government --- President Ahmadinejad, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, and head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani (see 1038 GMT). It declares that the three men insisted on no red lines to eradicate financial corruption.
The language indicates a deliberate attempt to show unity despite tensions --- this summer, President Ahmadinejad warned his foes not to cross "red lines" and prosecute his advisors and minister, while both Ahmadinejad and his critics among conservatives and principlists have accused each other of links to corruption cases.
2025 GMT: Sanctions Watch. US authorities have added another Iranian state-owned bank to its sanctions list.
The US Treasury claims Iran's Bank of Industry and Mines, the 21st to be listed by Washington, is handling transactions on behalf of two previously sanctioned institutions, Bank Mellat and Europaesch-Iranische Handelsbank.
2010 GMT: Execution Watch. Iran’s Supreme Court has approved the death sentence for Habibollah Latifi, according to his family.
1925 GMT: Syria Watch. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Council, has said Iran is supporting the Assad regime because Damascus is backing the opposition to Israel’s occupation of Arab lands: “Syria is providing great assistance to resistance, therefore the position that we have taken is very natural.”
1915 GMT: The Next Wave of Attacks (cont.). Uskowi adds weight to our interpretation in the previous entry, pointing to Ahmad Tavakoli's criticism of Ahmadinejad's Ministerial dismissals (see 1305 GMT) as unduly hurried, sending a message of political “instability” and his specific denunciation of “that famous, deviationist and problematic character” --- read the President's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai --- as the instigator of the latest move.
A 30-minute edition of the BBC documentary series Panorama on "Living with the Ayatollah" --- included are interviews with Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was jailed for more than three months after the 2009 election, and with Mahsa Amirabadi, who was detained and whose husband, journalist Masoud Bastani, is still in prison. The programme also considers stoning and the cases of condemned women such as "Parvin" and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani:
PART 1 of 2
1625 GMT: Why the Nuke Talks Stalled. A significant detail from Reuters....
The agency reports, from a "Western diplomat", that European Union foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton, speaking for the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, Germany, China, Russia, France) proposed that Iran send abroad 2,800 kilogrammes of low-enriched (3-4%) uranium and 40 kilogrammes of 20% uranium.
As Iran, according to Reuters, has a stockpile of "more than 3000 kilogrammes" of low-enriched uranium, the 5+1 Powers were effectively telling Iran that up to 90% of its uranium stock should be sent outside the country for processing.
Compare that with the offer on the table in Geneva in October 2009, which led to further talks before discussions stalled the following months: the 5+1 proposed that Iran send 60% of its low-enriched uranium (then estimated at 2000 kilogrammes) to Russia and France --- later Russia and France --- for processing. (At that point, Iran had no confirmed stocks of 20% uranium.)
Given Tehran's insistence on enriching uranium inside its borders, it's not too surprising that the 5+1's offer --- far worse for Tehran than what was on the table 15 months ago --- has not been welcomed.
2130 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. He may be disliked by many, but Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai is still putting about his wise words. Akhbar Rooz reports that books of the thoughts of the aide and Ahmadinejad confidante are being distributed to Government officials.
2120 GMT: Worst Diplomatic Statement of the Week. The Iranian Embassy in Kabul issued a statement on Monday, “Currently 16 fuel tankers are waiting at the Meelk-Dogharon border....for their turn to enter Afghanistan, and will enter Afghanistan's soil during next few days after legal formalities are completed.”
16? Iran is currently holding up to 2500 tankers at the Afghan border.
2035 GMT: Competition Time. A photo of President Ahmadinejad getting a lovely present from the staff of the Islamic Republic News Agency this morning. You supply the caption....
2145 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mousavi campaign Poriya Mousavi has been arrested after a raid on the family home.
Economist Fariborz Reisdana has been released on bail.Reisdana was arrested a month ago after he gave an interview criticising the Government's subsidy cuts.
1945 GMT: A Note to the President. MP Gholam Reza Mesbahi-Moghaddam has jabbed at the President over his failure to fulfil goals in the development plan and his "untrue" remarks about government achievements.