2150 GMT: Political Prisoner News. Reports that journalist Payman Aref has been released for ten days on a $100,000 bail.
2140 GMT: Today's Super Spy Case. Here is one to watch: Italian authorities have rounded up five Iranians and two Italians (according to Associated Press, the BBC says two Iranians and five Italians), with two more Iranians being sought, on charges of sending arms to Iran in violation of the international embargo. Amongst those detained is the Rome correspondent of Iranian state television, Hamid Masouminejad.
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2045 GMT: Waging Soft War for the Regime. From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
A controversial reporter with the ultraconservative Kayhan daily has been praised as Iran's first soft-war hero.
Payam Fazlinejad, who was attacked last month by unknown assailants, was described as Iran's first soft-war "janbaz" (someone who sacrifices his or her life) during a conference titled "The Celebration of Eight Months of Cyberwar" held in Tehran earlier this week....
Following the attack on Fazlinejad, the head of the semi-official Fars news agency said that Fazlinejad's writing had shed light on the true nature of the "sedition" movement and that as a writer he's been fighting in the soft-war sphere against those opposed to the Iranian establishment. He suggested that Fazlinejad's attackers are those who have been damaged by his writings.
At the ceremony, Fazlinejad, who appeared with his head bandaged, blasted the Green Movement, which he said has a "Freemason" nature and added that former President Mohammad Khatami is also a Freemason....
Following last year's disputed presidential vote, Fazlinejad has often referred ironically to the opposition press and dissidents as "nato-cultural," in an allusion to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
1800 GMT: Undermining Khamenei (While Backing Him). Abbas Salimi-Naeem, a right-wing politician and Head of the Office for Research and Documenting Iranian Contemporary History, has declared, "Hashemi Rafsanjani has problems with the election engineering that has been drawn up by the Supreme Leader."
On the surface, that is another attack on Rafsanjani and defense of Khamenei. But it is yet another public statement that raises the allegation, denied by the Supreme Leader and his inner circle, that he was involved with rigging of the election.
1410 GMT: Today's Clerics --- What Matters, What Doesn't. The Supreme Leader has used a meeting with Iran's top officials on the occasion of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday to put out some ritual phrases: "the endless oppression by the criminal Zionist regime against the innocent people of Palestine...the fake Zionist regime [is] a dangerous tumor...continuous efforts of the US, Britain, and other enemies of Islam to cause discord among the Islamic Ummah".
Meanwhile, we have a special analysis by Mr Verde of significant clerical moves, which may pose a problem for Ayatollah Khamenei beyond the Zionist tumour and enemies of Islam, over the reported death sentence on post-election protester Mohammad Amin Valian.
1240 GMT: So There. Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has warned, "Iran's proposal for a simultaneous exchange on Iranian soil of our low enriched uranium for fuel enriched to 20 percent is still on the table but it will not stay there forever."
1150 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Amidst the current surge in activity for economic measures against Tehran, Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has spoken out: "We oppose military attack on Iran or economic sanctions because that's to the detriment of the people."
1120 GMT: Economy Watch. Time magazine notes the significance of the economic issue for the Ahmadinejad Government:
Labor unrest and economic anxiety may not be among the headlines coming out of Iran since the controversial presidential election of June 2009, but they could turn out to be critical factors in the fate of the Islamic Republic. Indeed, the regime is so sensitive about the country's well-being that it has been obfuscating economic statistics — or simply not reporting them.
1100 GMT: The Detained Director. Peyke Iran reports the release of almost all those detained in the Monday night raid by Iranian security force on the home of prominent film director Jafar Panahi. However, Panahi, his production manager, and documentary maker Mohammad Rasoulof are still imprisoned.
0900 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Payvand has a useful round-up of recent developments. These include the detention of Hessam Firouzi, human rights activist and physician to several political prisoners, and his neighbour after raids on Firouzi's home. The security forces also went through the home of Firouzi's nephew, who has been missing since January.
As we noted yesterday, Mohboubeh Karami, member of the One Million Signature Campaign, has been charged with "disturbance and participation in gatherings." This is her fifth detention.
Human rights activist and blogger Behzad Mehrani was taken into custody and at least two more activists were arrested in Isfahan.
0645 GMT: The chatter this morning continues to be over the possible death sentence handed down on 20-year-old university student Mohammad Amin Valian, detained after the Ashura demonstrations of 27 December.
Iranian authorities have still offered no confirmation (or denial). However, the office of Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, who was accused of handing down the fatwa that led to Valian's sentence, has issued a denial. An anonymous visitor to Makarem-Shirazi's website wrote, "Many news organizations are reporting that an unjust execution sentence handed down to a student from Damghan is based on a decree by Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi. Please clarify whether this is true."
The reply from the website operators: "We have definitely not issued any fatwa [decrees] with regard to such people and this is the mischief of some sites. God willing, you’ll act according to Islamic criteria and not rush to judgement. May God’s kindness encompass everyone. Also we know that some youth have acted violently under the effects of certain emotions. These people have to be guided and if they have no links to corrupt groups they should be pardoned."
Meanwhile, a much different, if tangled, story plays out on the international front. The US is trying to set up a push for a UN Security Council resolution for tougher sanctions, with a flood of stories yesterday about a firm line from Europe and assurances that China was coming around to the American position.
However, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her Latin American tour, has offered a firm rebuff in their news conference:
We think with our own mind. We want a world without nuclear arms, certainly without proliferation. It is not about simply bending to an opinion that may not be true. We can't simply be taken along. We have to think with our own head.
Brazil holds one of the 10 rotating, non-veto seats on the Council.