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Entries in Sarah Shourd (24)


Iran Videos: Judiciary's Larijani on Detained Sotoudeh and on US Hikers

In his public-relations tour in New York, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the human rights section of the Iranian judiciary, explains to NBC television that attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh was detained in early September as "a threat to national security". The threat? "She indulged in propaganda against Islam."

In the second video, Larijani sets out a careful position on the three US hikers detained in July 2009.

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The Latest from Iran (20 November): A Curious "Stability"

2033 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. And so, at the end of the day, back to the start and our special analysis....

Mehdi Hashemi, the son of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has edged closer to calling the Government's bluff on arresting him if he leaves London and steps foot on Iranian soil. Hashemi, in a letter to Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, has said, "If you stop bargaining, I'll return to Iran to expose the liars."

2030 GMT: More "Unity" from Parliament? Ali Asgari, known as a hard-line conservative MP, has said "getting to power by immoral acts is to be condemned" and reformists should not be excluded from the Iranian system.

2020 GMT: Execution Watch (Tour of Europe Edition). Khabar Online reports that 36 Iranian lawyers will soon be visiting the European Judicial Centre. Ostensbly, the tour is to discuss comparative law; however, the specific intention is tipped off in a passage about the death sentence imposed on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

The Iranian attorneys will explain that execution is a legal sentence for the murder of Ashtiani's husband (actually, the sentence was initially imposed for adultery and Ashtiani was subsequently convicted of complicity in the murder, not of committing it), that execution by stoning has been suspended, and that very few people in Iran receive the stoning penalty.

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Iran Analysis (We Told You So): Why the Trial of US Hikers Bauer and Fattal Has Been Postponed

As EA predicted in September, the trial of detained American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, scheduled for 6 November, has been postponed.

Officially, Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei is claiming that the trial could not proceed because of the absence of Sarah Shourd, who was detained with Fattal and Bauer in July 2009 when they were walking along the Iran-Iraq border: "Due to the absence of the third person, the court has delayed the trial time so that in between this time the third person can return to Iran or, in the event of her refusal to appear, her case be dealt with differently."

To be blunt, that is a very thin excuse. The cover for Shourd's release, arranged just before President Ahmadinejad's trip to New York, was that a $500,000 "guarantee" had been lodged that she would return for trial. Whether or not the money was actually placed in the control of Iran, that arrangement pretty much ensured that Shourd would not face further prosecution.

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The Latest from Iran (1 November): Closing A Medical University?

2205 GMT: Labour Front. Around 1,300 workers at the Alborz Tire Factory outside Tehran have now been on strike for a week demanding payment of six months of back wages and a New Year's bonus.

2200 GMT: Mousavi, Karroubi, and Subsidy Cuts. In Sunday's meeting with Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi said that the Ahmadinejad Government will not be able to implement subsidy cuts successfully: "Generally speaking, no one is against the subsidy cut plan, but our view is that there is no figure to manage this plan. Most prominent and competent experts have been sidelined."

Mousavi also criticized the government for stationing police and security forces around Tehran before the implementation of the cuts.

Karroubi expressed dismay over “institutionalisation” of lies and slander in the country and spoke about the “engineering” of votes during the 2009 elections and the post-election crackdowns that followed: “They treated the people in the worst way, using a great deal of violence. They cannot tolerate the slightest bit of response from opponents and critics, neither in the national media nor in the press...They cannot stand any form of freedom of speech and have effectively killed the freedom to speak the truth and to be truthful...even though they could have saved the country from all dangers by holding true elections.”

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Iran Feature: Why It is Vital to Speak Out for the US Hostages

The not-so-new claim that three US hikers were taken by Iranian forces in Iraqi territory has been resurrected by this weekend's Wikileaks documents. This drama should not obscure the even more important matter: while Sarah Shourd has been released, Josh Bauer and Shane Fattal are still being held in Tehran as hostages.

At this hour, it is vital to the interests of the West and of Iran's citizens, not to mention an urgent matter for the hostages, that people open their mouths about them. The facts about those held on bogus charges in Iran's prisons, classifying them as hostages, as soon as possible. These cases need to be publicised and brought to the attention of the world so that it knows that Iran's leaders are not just committing abuses against their own citizens but also against citizens of other countries. 

Instead of sheepishly accepting Iran's aggressive and law-breaking actions, the West needs to act immediately and speak forcefully. Otherwise, Tehran will continue to detain foreigners and may even go so far as to abduct them to win favours in negotiations.

It’s time to get the hikers home.

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Iran Snap Analysis: Wikileaks (and the New York Times) v. the Supreme Leader

No question about the big development in Iran yesterday. The Supreme Leader, after four days of effort, finally got a significant political and religious triumph --- as opposed to his PR victory on Tuesday with his reception by Qom's crowds --- when Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani agreed to meet him. Ayatollah Khamenei's website put out a spread of photographs of the encounter, and state media --- even Press TV, which had been silent on the Supreme Leader's meetings with clerics --- posted short reports of the meeting, which also included Ayatollahs Hossein Nouri Hamedani, Naser Makarem Shirazi, Mousa Shobeiri Zanjani, Jafar Sobhani, and Abdollah Javadi Amoli. 

Still, the press coverage has been fairly muted, and the Supreme Leader faces a list of clerics who are holding out against public photographs and private talks: maraje such as Ayatollahs Mousavi Ardebili, Vahid Khorasani, Bayat Zanjani (who raised a smile with his excuse that he was attending his niece's wedding and visiting his mom in Zanjan), and Sane'i are still refusing to show allegiance.

Meanwhile, the non-Iranian press is likely to pay little or no attention today. That is because Tehran has been swept up in the high-profile release by Wikileaks on documents on the US war in Iraq since 2003.

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Iran Interview: The State Department's New Man for Tehran 

UPDATE 1420 GMT: An EA correspondent adds: 

The resignation of John Limbert was almost entirely because he had only a one-year leave of absence from his faculty position with the US Naval Academy. If he was a bit frustrated, I think it would be more accurate to say that he was in a learning mode for the entire time. He has almost always served overseas and was not familiar with the Washington policy process. 

Limbert's expertise on Iran is without parallel, but I was always sceptical that he could translate that into policy actions while swimming with the likes of officials like Dennis Ross and other denizens of the policy deep. 

As head of the Northern Gulf desk in the State Department, a lot of Dibble's effort went into Iran. He is no match for Limbert in terms of Iran expertise, but neither is anyone else. Dibble is a bit more of an operator, so the State Department could be trading depth of expertise for policy acumen. There is a question of how long Dibble is slated to be in the post: it is not really clear that anyone can come in temporarily and have a major impact. He does have a really smart and experienced staff.

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The Latest from Iran (25 September): A Squeeze, a Meeting, and a Nuclear Signal

1115 GMT: Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Activists News Agency reports 1952 cases of rights violations in the last month, including firings, intimidation, and detentions.

1100 GMT: Economy Watch. The Iranian Labor News Agency offers the frank observation, "Some Iranian officials recently confirmed the existence of Mafia [organised crime] in the country’s import market. However the [extent of the] economic monopoly...still remains unknown."

Iranian officials have not announced the names of the "monopolists" but the report says "political activists" presume they are "connected with high powers". 

0650 GMT: And in Tehran. But will the Iranian political establishment back Ahmadinejad as he presses for the renewed talks on uranium enrichment?

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Iran Video & Transcript: Ahmadinejad on ABC News "US Hikers, Sanctions, & Human Rights" (19 September)

And so Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's US media tour begins, only hours after he arrived in New York. The first interview was with Christiane Amanpour of ABC News's This Week:

Watch the video....

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Iran Video: Ahmadinejad with NBC News on "Muslims", "Zionists", & Obama (15 September)

President Ahmadinejad is off to the United Nations for his annual presentation to the General Assembly, so that means another round of interviews with US television networks.

It's a low-risk strategy for Ahmadinejad, as the American interviewers do not usually bring more than two-dimensional questions, and this encounter with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell was no different. Rather than pushing the President on Iran's internal matters, Mitchell settled for a snapshot of the case of the three US hikers --- Ahmadinejad had released Sarah Shourd on "compassionate grounds" but was defiant over the continued imprisonment of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal --- and got into a tangential discussion on the proposed Islamic cultural centre in New York and a general overview of President Obama and US politics. Ahmadinejad countered with assertions of Muslim goodwill (and thus his own) --- "Muslims do not hate Americans" --- while saying that a "Zionist minority" was limiting the President's options on US-Iranian relations.

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