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Entries in Mohammad Sadegh Larijani (5)


The Latest from Iran (30 March): Strategies

2000 GMT: Politics, Religion, and Culture. Reihaneh Mazaheri in Mianeh offers a detailed article setting out how President Ahmadinejad has tried to use financial support of religious and cultural centres, often supervised by his close allies, to reinforce his political base. An extract:
The administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using state funds to spread its political and religious ideology and at the same time maintain powerful allies during times of turmoil, critics say.

The authorities have set aside 4.5 billion of the 347 billion US dollar, 2010-11 budget, which took effect on March 21, for cultural matters - but much of it is spent on religious and culturally hardline institutions sympathetic to the administration.

Ever since first becoming president in 2005, Ahmadinejad has made a clear effort to defend religious groups and organisations to a degree previously unknown in the country.

He set out his thinking in a speech to clergy in southern Fars province in 2007, saying, “In the budget of previous administrations, no room was found for religious centres and religious matters. However, we have taken them into consideration in the budget.”

The budget for “mosque centres”, one of the government’s main sources of popular support, has increased to 25 million dollars from 1.6 million in 2005 at the end of the term of reformist president Mohammad Khatami, according to Mohammad Hosseini, the minister of culture and Islamic guidance.

NEW Iran: Preventing Tehran from “Going Nuclear” (Ramazani)
NEW Iran Politics and Music: Sasi Mankan’s “Karroubi”
NEW Iran: The Green Movement’s Next Steps (Shahryar)
Iran: A View from the Labour Front (Rahnema)
Iran’s Nukes: False Alarm Journalism (Sick)
The Latest from Iran (29 March): Questionable Authority

1545 GMT: A Media Note. To the Charlie Rose Show on the US Public Broadcasting Service: I've now viewed what amounted to a half-hour propaganda special for the Iranian regime, aired in the US last night. Given the substitution of polemic, distortions, and misrepresentations posing as "analysis", I'm not even posting a link.

I'm hoping that this unfortunate interview disappears quickly. However, if it receives any attention as supposed "insight" into post-election Iran, I will be back with a fury.

In the meantime, this should suffice: this programme is a disservice and, indeed, a disgrace given the thousands detained, abused, and denied rights and freedoms. Speak to them, not the two "experts" to whom you turned over airtime last evening.

1540 GMT: Today's Propaganda Drama. After the reported rescue of Iranian diplomat Heshmatollah Attarzadeh Niaki from abductors in Pakistan, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence has declared, “The Islamic Republic did not capitulate to any of this armed group’s demands which is supported by the US and Mossad.”

1535 GMT: Grounding Iran's Airliine. The European Commission has imposed a ban on flights by Iran Air within Europe.

1530 GMT: The "Other" Khamenei Visits Freed Reformist. Hadi Khamenei, the brother of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, joined others in visiting Mostafa Tajzadeh, the former Deputy Minister of Interior who is on temporary release for Nowruz, at his house last night.

1520 GMT: Revival of the Photograph. Pedestrian reports that Amir Sadeqi of the photo blog Tehran Live is out of prison and again taking and posting his photographs.

1500 GMT: Another Death Sentence. Back from an academic break and an appearance on Al Jazeera English's Inside Story (airing 1730 GMT) about the latest in Iraq's power politics, I find confirmation on websites of the news --- reported yesterday --- that 42-year-old schoolteacher Abdolreza Ghanbari has been sentenced to death for  "Mohareb (war against God) through contacts with dissident groups". This broad charge covers "suspicious emails and having contacts with television media outside the country".

1110 GMT: Joke of the Day. An EA correspondent has pointed out the feature from the blog Persian Letters on post-election humour in Iran but, in my opinion, the best joke came from a reader in the comments:

Q. How Many Basijis Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?
A. None. The Basijis will sit in the dark and blame Israel and the USA.

0810 GMT: Latest on the battle over subsidy reform comes from "principlist" member of Parliament Mohammad Hossein Farhangi, who says the Government is obliged to act according to the vote of the Majlis.

0800 GMT: Rule of Law. Rah-e-Sabz tries to interpret what a meeting between the Supreme Leader and the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, means for Iran's judicial procedure and sentencing.

Rah-e-Sabz also claims information on a strategy by the Revolutionary Guards to avoid exposure of human rights violations, including the effort to crack down on human rights organisations in Iran.

0655 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Children's rights activist Maryam Zia Mohaved has reportedly been released from Evin Prison after a 13-day hunger strike.

0645 GMT: We begin today with three Iran specials. Josh Shahryar thinks about the next steps for the Green Movement. R.K. Ramazani evaluates the best US strategy to deal with Iran's nuclear programme. And, after the arrest of underground rap artist Sasi Mankan, we post his April 2009 single "Karroubi".

The Latest from Iran (27 March): Rumours

2330 GMT: A Quick Note. We've taken the evening off to spend time with friends and unwind. We'll be back bright and early on Sunday.

Meanwhile, here's a new analysis for you: "Israel, Iran, and 'Existential Threat'".

1800 GMT: Public Funeral for Montazeri's Wife Blocked? Iranian officials have objected to a funeral procession for the wife of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, who passed away today (see 1125 GMT), from the family house to the shrine of Masoumeh (the sister of Imam Reza, the eighth Imam of Shia) in Qom.

Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the Ayatollah, told BBC Persian that the officials limited the funeral ceremony to 150 metres from the burial site . The family objected, so the compromise is that the public can gather in the Masoumeh shrine where Grand Ayatollah Shobeyri-Zanjani will say the prayer.

The Latest from Iran (26 March): Break Time

1730 GMT: Temporarily Freed, Politically Active. Mostafa Tajzadeh, senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front and former Deputy Minister of Interior, continues to use his temporary release from prison to visit families of detainees and others who have been bailed but face long prison sentences. The last meeting is with key reformist thinker Saeed Hajarian, who was jailed for more than three months and put on trial after the June election.

1515 GMT: Academics and Political Prisoners. Students have sent an open letter to the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, to protest the arrest of Abdollah Yousefzadegan, a law student at Allameh Tabatabai University and winner of the nationwide Olympiad of Literature. Yousefzadegan was detained on 15 March in Mashhad and has not yet been charged.

The letter condemns the harsh treatment of the academic elite and maintains that the arrest of Yousefzadegan “destroys the credibility of the judiciary and trust in the security institutions of the Islamic Republic".

1310 GMT: Rumour Denied. Mir Hossein Mousavi's website Kalemeh is denying the report, first circulated by Farda News, that Mousavi met Hashemi Rafsanjani on the first day of Nowruz.

1125 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that the wife of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri passed away in Qom this morning. Her funeral will take place tomorrow 10:00 am local time.

Montazeri, the one-time successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, died in December.

1100 GMT: Nowruz Visits. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard saw the family of Amir Aboutalebi, a Mousavi advisor who has been detained since January. Despite the efforts of Aboutalebi's family, he was not granted temporary release for Iranian New Year. Aboutalebi recently had his first phone call with his family after 45 days of detention.

A group of pro-Green Movement students of Elm-o-Sana’at University, where Aboutalebi's children study, also sent their sympathy to the family. Aboutalebi was a political prisoner of the Shah, losing an eye during his detention and was also pursued by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) after the Revolution.

0950 GMT: Reformist Challenge. Rasoul Montakhab-nia, the deputy head of the Etemade Melli party, has declared that the Government "cannot speak with language of force to people." Montakhab-nia say that this new year should be a year of forgiveness(for protesters, and that responsible political figures should try to involve all Iranians in the "nezam" (system) and Revolution of the Islamic Republic.

0940 GMT: Subsidy Fightback. The President's supporters are hitting back at Parliament's criticism of his economic manoeuvres (see 0755 GMT). Former Minister of Health Alireza Marandi says that the duty of the Majlis is to support the Government, while Lotfollah Forouzandeh asks the Parliament to take the burden off the Government's shoulders and accept the subsidy cuts and spending proposals.

0935 GMT: Friday Prayer Round-Up. Rah-e-Sabz has the highlights of prayer addresses throughout the country. An EA correspondent gives the top prize to Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi in Tehran with "the keys  God offered to the Supreme Leader" to solve Iran's problems.  Runner-up is  Ali Hajizadeh from Tabriz, who has discovered a "Velvet Revolution" in Iraq.

0925 GMT: Rumour of Day (2). The Iranian blog Che Mishavad (What Happens) blog claims that the Revolutionary Guard is laundering money, including revenues from drug smuggling, in Bahrain and Kuwait. The money is then placed through Ali Jannati, the son of Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, into a Swiss bank.

0915 GMT: Rumour of Day.  Rah-e-Sabz claims that the Supreme Leader promised Hashemi Rafsanjani that most political prisoners would be freed. However, when the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, tried to do so, the move was blocked by the "hard-line" Judge Abolqasem Salavati.

0755 GMT: The Subsidy Battle. Khabar Online keeps up the pressure on the President, featuring the claim of member of Parliament Hasan Qafouri Fard that Ahmadinejad is not authorised to call for a national referendum on his subsidy reduction and spending plans.

The Parliament approved an extra $20 billion in the Iranian budget from the subsidy cuts but has refused Ahmadinejad's $40 billion request.

0740 GMT: The relative quiet in Iran continues, as global attention focuses on the elections next door in Iraq. Press TV's top domestic headline is "Iran wins 3rd Sitting Volleyball World Championships".

There is a bit of a show for the first International Nowruz Celebrations in Tehran and Shiraz, as President Ahmadinejad tries to boost the image of international legitimacy. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, and Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov are in Tehran for the two-day event, and Iranian state media reports that they will be joined by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek.

A useful story from the Carnegie Council, which gets behind all the sanctions huffing-and-puffing to identify the key development, "U.S. Pressures Oil Companies to Leave Iran". This passage deserves attention and repetition:

Since the start of 2010, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell stated it would no longer sell gasoline to Iran, along with Glencore (Switzerland), Vitol (Switzerland), and Trafigura (Amsterdam). British Petroleum and Reliance (India) stopped selling to Iran in 2009. With this series of departures, Iran now imports its oil from only five sources: Total (France), Lukoil (Russia), Petronas (Malaysia), Independent Oil Group (Kuwait), and Chinese companies. [Lukoil declared just this week that it, too, would divest.]


Iran Breaking: Ban on Reformist Political Party

We're watching carefully the reported ban on the activities of Iran's leading reformist political party, Islamic Iran Participation Party (Mosharekat).

Deputy Interior Ministry Solat Mortazavi told the Iranian Students News Agency that all activities of IIPF have been banned and its headquarters have been locked.

The Latest from Iran (15 March): Breaking Human Rights

Mortazavi implied that the ban was in place before the IIPF announcement that its congress had been called off because of pressure from security forces. (IIPF's position is that there is no ban, since this would have to come from a judicial decision, only the postponement of the congress.)

Speaking to BBC Persian, a leading member of the IIPF, Ali Shakouri, disputed the claim that the party was banned but confirmed that its headquarters are locked and inaccessible. He added that the party continued publishing communiques and other activity (which in practice amounted to little more than keeping Norooz News up and running) despite the lack of headquarters and the imprisonment of several leading party figures.

Shakouri said that the party has no idea who was behind the locking of the headquarters and reiterated that no judicial source has yet ordered the suspension of party activities.

The IIPF has also put out a statement declaring that the ban is a sign of Government weakness and calling on activists to maintain their campaign against the "empire of lies".

An EA correspondent comments:
This is potentially a very destabilising move that would be impossible without the direct consent of the Supreme Leader.

Whether the judiciary confirms the Interior ministry announcement will be the next big development. If the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Larijani agrees with Mortazavi, Ahmadinejad's political deputy, this would be a major setback for those hoping for a conservative alignment against the President.

The Latest from Iran (10 March): The View from Washington

2305 GMT: Back on the Road Again. Off for flight to UK and work in Liverpool so will be quiet for a while. Thanks to everyone for backing up EA on an eventful day.

2300 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Reports that student activist and weblog writer Fouad Shams has been released from prison after 96 days. Saeed Nourmohammadi, a member of the youth branch of the Islamic Iran Participation Front has been freed after 4 1/2 months in detention.

NEW Iran Interview: Habibollah Peyman “Change Through Social Awareness”
Iran Analysis: Corruption Within the Government?
The Latest from Iran (9 March): Political Acts

2255 GMT: Maintaining Control. Radio Zamaneh headlines, "Iran's Supreme Leader May Approve Changes to Electoral Policies", but the more you read, the more this is an assertion of Khamenei's authority rather than reform.

Meeting members of the Assembly of Experts, the Supreme Leader said that he will approve the changes in “general policies of the elections” under discussion in the Expediency Council, headed by Hashemi Rafsanjani.

However, Khamenei added that the opinion of the Expediency Council regarding election policies is “debatable”, and once he is informed of their decision, he will enforce what he deems necessary. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the Council's moves for change.....

2240 GMT: Economy Watch. It's not the headlines over the sanctions that should be garnering attention; instead, keep an eye on the companies ceasing business with Iran.

Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it has stopped selling gasoline/petrol to Iran which, despite its oil reserves, is dependent on imports to meet domestic demand. Shell still receives revenues from an oilfield deal completed in 2005. (The New York Times also reports that Shell "has a natural gas development in the works" but --- and here is where a Washington conference comes in useful --- informed insiders say there is little likelihood of the project moving ahead in the foreseeable future.)

Ingersoll-Rand, a manufactuer of air compressors and cooling systems, has also said that it will no longer allow its foreign subsidiaries to sell parts or products to Iran.

2230 GMT: More In-Fighting. Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari, in an editorial “Outrageous Overstatement”, has gone after Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai for his recent “base,” “hyperbolic”, and “pompous” remarks. Shariatmadari accused Rahim-Mashai of seeking to undermine the presidency, distort the principle of velayat-e-faqih (clerical authority), and cause rifts among the principlists.

2225 GMT: Watch This Closely. Earlier this week Mr Verde picked up on the challenge of the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, that he was going to root out corruption in the Government and punish those responsible, including a high-ranking official.

Well, Sadegh's got back-up from the Parliament that his brother Ali heads:
A majority of Iranian lawmakers have asked Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani to decisively deal with the case of a major ring of corrupt government employees.

Larijani announced on Sunday that the judicial system had arrested 11 members of a ring of corrupt employees who embezzled millions of dollars by forging government documents.

Ayatollah Larijani stated that 11 key members of the ring have been arrested and all of them have made confessions.

In a letter sent to the Judiciary chief on Wednesday, 216 MPs also thanked him for his efforts to ensure that the members of the gang were arrested.

But the MPs said that based on the available information, the embezzlement ring has been active in more than one state organization and therefore the rest of its members should be tracked down and arrested.

They said they have been informed that certain people with high-ranking positions played more active roles in the ring than those who have been arrested.

The lawmakers urged Larijani to deal with all the members of the ring, regardless of their positions.

"Certain people with high-ranking positions"? First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, by chance?

2200 GMT: Back from a most interesting day of Iran panels. Hoping to collect thoughts for an analysis, but I'm very tired. So, for now, thanks a million to everyone for all the great support.

1300 GMT: March on Washington. I'm off to Capitol Hill to see some folks about Iran. We'll be on the road for awhile, so keep us up-to-date with developments by posting in our Comments section.

1220 GMT: We have posted the thoughts of Dr Habibollah Peyman, the head of the banned Movement of Combatant Muslims, on the strategy of the Green Movement.

1115 GMT: Kiarostami Speaks Out. The prominent Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami has published an open letter in a Tehran newspaper calling for the release of Jafar Panahi and Mahmoud Rasoulof, fellow directors who were detained last week.

Kiarostami has also sent an English translation thorough a friend to The New York Times, which prints the text.

1105 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Persian2English summarises news of a series of releases on bail:
Emad Bahavar, member of reformist group Nehzat-e Azadi [Freedom Movement of Iran] , and Yashar Darolshafa, a student activist, were released last night.

Political activist Mehrdad Rahimi was released last night after posting a $70,000 bail. Rahimi, who was arrested over two months ago, was under pressure to submit to confessions on live television.

Political activist Hamideh Ghasemi, journalist Ahmad Jalali Farahani, and Saleh Noghrekar were also released after a month in prison.

Saleh Noghrekar is the nephew of opposition leader, Zahra Rahnavard. He was released on a $50,000 bail.

Mehdi Amizesh, children’s rights activist, was also released on bail after two months in prison.

1055 GMT: Mahmoud Knocks, K arzai Not at Home. Here is the not-so-dramatic of the saga of President Ahmadinejad saying he would go to Afghanistan on Monday (Sunday), Ahmadinejad not going to Afghanistan (Monday), Ahmadinejad saying "oh, I meant Wednesday" (Tuesday).

Well, the good news is that the President finally got to see Kabul's sights, and Hamid Karzai is one of them. Initial reports indicated that the Afghanistan President was not at home, but the two men finally showed up at a press conference.

With US Secretary of Defense Gates still in Afghanistan --- his visit with Karzai on Monday was the likely reason for the postponement of Ahmadinejad's trip --- the Iranian President took a swipe at Washington, "I believe that they themselves are playing a double game. They themselves created terrorists and now they're saying that they are fighting terrorists." Gates had put out the "double game" charge against Tehran earlier in the week.

1045 GMT: I Don't Even Like the Guy. If Jahan News was trying to undermine Mehdi Karroubi with the claim that he was very nice to Saeed Mortazavi, the Ahmadinejad aide who has been blamed for the post-election abuses at Kahrizak, the effort does not appear to have worked. Karroubi hasn't reacted, but Mortazavi is more than a bit upset. His office put out this statement:
Mr. Mortazavi attended a memorial service held for the mother of his colleague in Nour Mosque on Saturday....Mr. Mehdi Karroubi was present at the beginning of the ceremony and left approximately half an hour before Mr. Mortazavi arrived. Therefore, Mr. Karroubi and Mortazavi never encountered each other.

It is not clear what the intentions of this website was in reporting the warm exchange of pleasantries and kisses between these two individuals [Karroubi, Mortazavi]. The intention to disseminate such false news reports is also a matter to reflect upon.

The son of Mr. Karroubi was one of the suspects the former Tehran prosecutor [Mortazavi] dealt with and the Etemade Melli newspaper owned by Mr. Karroubi was banned by him therefore such fabricated stories aimed at influencing public opinion will have no success.

0450 GMT: We're off for some downtime before the Wednesday conference. Back in a few hours.

0435 GMT: The War on Football. Yesterday we noted that Iranian authorities had issued a warning, for an unspecified reason, to a football publication.

Well, here's an even more serious football story from Iran Human Rights Voice:
Football journalist Abdollah Sadoughi was arrested in the city of Tabriz, north-west Iran, on 18 January, after publishing a poster supporting the city’s Traktor Sazi football team. He is held without charge at Tabriz prison, and is on hunger strike in protest at what he considers to be his baseless detention....

Abdollah Sadoughi, aged 33, a member of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority, writes for the Iranian publications Goal, Corner and Khosh Khabar (Good News). He supports Tabriz’s Traktor Sazi football team. The authorities have accused him of acts “against national security” including supporting “Pan-Turkism” for publishing posters, one of which says, in the Azerbaijani Turkic language, “All of Azerbaijan feels pride with you”, alongside an image of the football team. Abdollah Sadoughi maintains he had permission from the relevant authorities to print posters [but] Azerbaijani Turkic is not recognized as an official language in Iran....

In late February, Abdollah Sadoughi began a hunger strike. According to media reports, soon after starting his hunger strike he was transferred to solitary confinement and held in filthy conditions, and then moved to a cell with criminal convicts. On 2 March 2010, having lost considerable weight and suffering from various medical problems, he was transferred to the clinic within Tabriz prison. Abdollah Sadoughi has been able to meet his lawyer and his family, most recently on 6 March, when he said he would continue his hunger strike until he is released or brought before a court.

0430 GMT: Does the Movement Live? Mohammad Sadeghi offers a spirited response to those who claimed 22 Bahman (11 February) marked the end of the Green Movement:
Any measure of the movement's success must focus on the incredible changes brought about in Iran thus far, rather than the outcome of specific tactics. Conversations on the proper role of government, which would have been unthinkable less than a year ago, are now commonplace throughout the country. The government is constantly on the defensive on issues ranging from sexual abuse in prisons to its failed economic policies. Although the regime maintains tight control over all levers of power in society -- police and security forces, the media, the oil industry, etc. -- its popular support has been steadily slipping since June's presidential election. These changes have taken place because of the millions of Iranians who see it as their duty to peacefully protest in the streets, document the regime's brutality, and spread this documentation around the world. In other words, the movement owes its greatest successes to the horizontal organization and innovative use of technology that [critics are] so quick to dismiss.

0315 GMT: Now in place in Washington for Wednesday's open hearing on Iran and US-Iran relations. Will get an insider's look later today but already one point of note has emerged: the Ali Larijani mission to Japan for a possible uranium enrichment deal should be taken seriously.

That impression is accompanied by signals from Iranian state media of confidence that the push for tougher international sanctions on Tehran will fail. Under the headline, "Anti-Iran plot failing, Israeli envoy laments", Press TV carries Agence France Presse's quotation from Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev: "The chances now seem grim regarding sanctions that will be crippling." Shalev said Russia and China "are still looking to the diplomatic track" and appear reluctant to back a new round of sanctions.

Back in Iran, the trial of 12 police officers charged with post-election abuses in Kahrizak Prison has begun.

The Latest from Iran (7 March): The Elections Next Door

2225 GMT: Petraeus Pronounces. On a slowish political evening, General David Petraeus dishes out some rhetoric on Iran's "thugocracy". We'll have an analysis tomorrow (hint: it's actually a signal that US is backing off any immediate military pressure), but for now, we've posted the video.

1945 GMT: Larijani Watch. Nice move by the head of Iran's judiciary, Mohammad Sadegh Larijani. He has announced the discovery of a large group inside the Government carrying out fraud and economic corruption: one case alone was embezzlement of 6 bilionl Toman more than $6 million).

NEW Iran: Senior Reformist Amani “We Have Not Decided to Remain Silent”
UPDATED Death, Confusion, and Clerics in Iran: The Case of Mohammad Amin Valian
NEW An Open Letter to the Editors of Iran’s “Principled” Newspapers
The Latest from Iran (7 March): The Elections Next Door

Thus, Larijani takes a swipe at Ahmadinejad and poses as a a defender of justice for the Iranian people.

1930 GMT: Bypassing Sanctions. All the way back to our first update (0730 GMT) on "Western" firms who trade with Tehran: Welt Online has a lengthy article on German companies who use Dubai as a "back door" to get into Iran.

1900 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Madhi Forouzandehpour, who was in charge of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s office, has been released after more than two months in detention.

1750 GMT: The Uranium Enrichment Deal. Don't say EA didn't tell you....
A couple of weeks after the visit by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to Tokyo, this nugget from the Foreign Ministry:
Iran is ready to conduct its uranium exchange plan also with fresh countries, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday, according to the Fars News Agency.

"As we have reached no results yet with France, Russia and the United States over the uranium exchange plan, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head has asked other countries to get involved," Mehmanparast said.

"We will wait and see whether other countries would be capable to provide us with the required fuel," the spokesman added in a meeting with students at the Shahid Beheshti university in Tehran.

Japan is reportedly one of the countries interested to get engaged in the deal.

1730 GMT: Political Prisoner/Mohareb Watch. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatababi announced that 250 Ashura detainees have been indicted, but he said reports of a confirmed death sentence for Mohammad Amin Valian were false.

1710 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Leading student activist Abdollah Momeni has reportedly been released on $800,000 bail.

1645 GMT: Karroubi Takes on Mohareb. It looks like Mehdi Karroubi may have another front in his battle against the regime over its conception of "justice". He told an audience today,
I have previously pointed out [the need for] changing the definition of Mohareb [warring against God] in the current situation and have asked judiciary officials for its abolition....Some officials, unpremeditatedly or premeditatedly and even intentionally, called the streets protests and movements Moharebeh, and this is unfortunate.

Karroubi referred to the case of Mohammad Amin Valian, the Ashura protester condemned to death, as a “negative point” since Valian was only “taking part in street protests.” Karroubi claimed that Iranian officials "don’t know that Iran’s reputation in the international community is tarnished with such acts”.

1640 GMT: On the Women's Front. The Iranian Labor News Agency dares to proclaim, on the eve of International Women's Day, that "statistics and recent events in Iran indicate Iranian women did not experience an enjoyable year".

1630 GMT: That Cyber-War Thing. Following the declaration of Iranian officials that the Green Movement will be "crushed" in the battle of the Internet, an Islamic Revolution Guard Corps commander has said that 18,000 IRGC troops will be deployed in the "cyber-war".

1615 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Amirhossein Kazemi, weblog writer and member of the Freedom Movement of Iran, was arrested last night after being summoned to the Intelligence Ministry and taken to an unknown location. Emad Behavar, the head of the youth branch and member of the political bureau of the FMI, has been arrested for the third time in the post-election crisis.

Many of the FMI's leaders have been detained.

1200 GMT: We've posted an interview with a senior reformist, Shahrbanou Amani, considering the state of the Green Movement: "We Have Not Decided to Remain Silent".

1000 GMT: Posture of the Day. The Iranian Government, represented by Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi, is boasting of a new domestically-manufactured short-range cruise missile that can "eliminate targets of up to 300 tons".

0800 GMT: Butterfly on a Wheel. Golshifteh Farahani, the first Iranian actress since 1979 to appear in a major Hollywood film, has spoken of the oppression of Iran's artists by the current regime.

After her appearance in Body of Lies with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, Farahani was harassed by Iranian intelligence services for months before she went into exile in Paris.

Reacting to the arrest of award-winning director Jafar Panahi last week, Farahani said, "We are so angry. Jafar is one, maybe the only one… still in Iran who is talking. Most artists [in Iran] don't talk because they would rather work somehow. I appreciate that, but Jafar is the one who had the courage to talk, and he talked for everyone."

0755 GMT: A Government's Satanic Aims. Former President Mohammad Khatami has delcared in a speech:
It is a catastrophe that satanic aims and inhuman methods are imposed on the people in the name of God and holiness. Peace is the most beautiful word that exists, but unfortunately we see rare examples in the historical reality (today).

0750 GMT: Here's Some Culture for You. Former Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi has declared at a conference that Iran's "cyber-army" will reach "greater achievements", crushing the Green Movement.

0730 GMT: Nine months after Iran's Presidential election, media attention --- including that of Iranian outlets --- will be focused on a vote next door, as Iraqis go to the polls. We'll be starting our Iran morning in a reflective mood, with a senior reformist politician, Shahrbanou Amani, considering the state of the movement: "We have not decided to remain silent."

Anticipating US legislating punishing firms who trade both with the American Government and with Iran, The New York Times has published a list of 74 companies who could have been affected. Heading the list is Halliburton, the oil and gas drilling services firm connected with former Vice President Dick Cheney, at $27.1 billion. (Like a number of others on the list, Halliburton has now officially withdrawn from Iran.)