The United States is deeply concerned about reports of additional charges facing Kian Tajbakhsh (see 1200 GMT), an Iranian-American scholar who has been detained in Iran without access to an independent lawyer since July 9, 2009. The charges against Mr. Tajbakhsh are baseless, and his original sentence on October 20 was an outrage. The Iranian government cannot earn the respect of the international community when it violates universal rights, and continues to imprison innocent people. We call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Mr. Tajbakhsh, and to respect the human rights of those within its borders.
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1945 GMT: Seizing the Peace Prize. EA readers have now picked up on the incident, building since yesterday, that Iranian authorities have seized the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to lawyer and rights activist Shirin Ebadi.
The possibility of seizure has been around for months, as the Iranian Government claimed that the award was taxable. (Ebadi maintains that prizes are explicitly excluded from taxation under Iranian fiscal law.) What seems to have elevated the story is the manner of the seizure, with the taking of the medal and prize diploma from a safe-deposit box.
The immediate diplomatic effect seems to have the provocation of Norwegian anger and a promise to elevate the human rights issue.. The Iranian charge d'affaires in Oslo was summoned to a meeting Wednesday with Norwegian State Secretary Gry Larsen. Foreign Minister Store stated, "During the meeting with the Iranian chargé d’affaires, we made it clear that Norway will continue to engage in international efforts to protect human-rights defenders and will follow the situation in Iran closely."
1720 GMT: The Big Push. The Turkish effort to get some movement from Iran on the nuclear issue (see 1600 GMT) accompanies "encouragement" by Moscow:
Russia urged Iran to cooperate with the international community as the United Nations’ atomic agency warned it had hit a “dead end” over whether the Islamic republic is developing a nuclear weapon. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov discussed the nuclear issue in Moscow with Ambassador Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi at the Iranian diplomat’s request, the Foreign Ministry said on its Web site today: “The Russian side especially underscored the necessity to observe the agreements in principle reached in talks in Geneva."
1620 GMT: The Islamic Republic News Agency is reporting that Mir Hossein Mousavi's brother-in-law Shapour Kazemi, freed earlier today (see 1320 GMT), has received a one-year prison sentence and is free on bail while the verdict is appealed.
Leading reformist Behzad Nabavi, still seriously ill, has been sentenced to six years.
1600 GMT: The Turkish Mediation. It's not looking good in Vienna, but Turkey is still trying to get an enrichment deal:
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu [had] phone conversations with foreign ministers of several countries over Iran's nuclear program. Davutoglu spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, diplomats said on Thursday
1530 GMT: And From the Other Side. While Mohammad El Baradei's statement is being headlined by "Western" media as proof that Iran should be cast into the darkness, here's the take from Press TV: "El Baradei: No diversion in Iran nuclear program". Unfortunately for Iran's state media, there's nothing --- nothing --- to support that declaration, and Press has to quote the opposing accounts: "There has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."
1405 GMT: The non-Iranian media are all over the purported statement of Mohammad El Baradei at this morning's International Atomic Energy Agency meeting, stating that examination of Iran's nuclear programme is at a "dead end" because of non-cooperation from Tehran and that he is disappointed at the Iranian modification of his proposal for third-party enrichment of uranium.
To be honest, I'm being very careful with this. El Baradei's statement came out quickly --- very quickly --- from the meeting, which makes me think that certain diplomats are anxious to get his negative views across the Internet and into newspapers and broadcasts. I still think, pending further developments from Vienna, that the best measure of the IAEA head's current analysis is his interview with Reuters yesterday.
1330 GMT: We've posted the BBC version of the documentary on the death of Neda Agha Soltan.
1320 GMT: Shapour Kazemi, the brother of Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife Zahra Rahnavard, has been released on bail after more than five months in detention.
1200 GMT: Tajbakhsh the Pawn? As part of the tough front being taken this week against the US --- yesterday's speech by the Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad's posturing, the threats of the Revolutionary Guard --- the Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh has been brought back into Revolutionary Court on new charges of "spying for the George Soros foundation", the Open Society Institute. Tajbakhsh is also accused of sending e-mails to the Gulf 2000 network (a discussion list which includes two EA correspondents as members).
Tajbakhsh is being held in Evin Prison in solitary confinement.
1115 GMT: Tehran's Tough Talk on Nukes. As International Atomic Energy Agency delegates consider a resolution on Iran's nuclear programme, the Iranian ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has issued a pre-emptive warning. Iran will respond to any condemnation by reducing co-operation "to the minimum we are legally obliged".
Translated, that's a threat to break off the talks on enrichment, as the resolution will "damage the currently constructive atmosphere" and "have long-term consequences".
1020 GMT: We've just posted an analysis, based on signals in the US media over the last 48 hours, "Has 'Green Reform' Disappeared in Washington?"
0950 GMT: Fighting the Menace Within. Another sign of the regime's disquiet. The Deputy Minister of Intelligence and former commander of the Basiji militia, Hossein Taeb, has launched another attack on Hashemi Rafsanjani through Rafsanjani's son, Mehdi Hashemi.
Taeb told a Basiji seminar:
We found an espionage gang in 1992 and 1995 that met in a luxury house in Tehran and trained prostitutes for state officials as a way to corrupt them. One of the ring leaders was Mehdi Hashemi, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani’s son who was immediately arrested. But following influence peddling by his father, some intelligence officials were transferred to other departments and Mehdi and his gang were set free.
Girls and women prostitutes that worked in that ring were active in Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s presidential election campaign headquarters. The plan of the reformists was that Mousavi would become president while Khatami would become leader and so the regime would collapse.
Taeb advocated arrest of the leaders of the reform movement saying that "there would be no consequences in the country" if they were detained.
0945 GMT: More than 40 students at Khaje Nasir University, the site of ongoing protests before, on, and since 13 Aban (4 November), have been targeted for possible disciplinary action; ten have been summoned to hearings on a variety of charges.
0915 GMT: Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader is asserting his authority with his own global tour, albeit through a statement rather than international jet-setting. His office has just put out the lengthy summary of a message to Iranian pilgrims on the Hajj to Mecca:
Palestine is under the evil dominion of Zionism in increasing suffering and starvation; Al-Aqsa Mosque is in great and serious danger. Oppressed people of Gaza are still in hardest condition after that unexampled genocide. Under the brogan of occupiers, Afghanistan is stricken by a new tragedy every single day. Insecurity in Iraq has deprived people of peace and comfort. Fratricide in Yemen has created a new tragedy in the heart of an Islamic nation.
Muslims think about recent years of devilry and wars, explosion and terrors in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and where they have been designed. Why did these nations not witness tragedy before Western armies entered and dominated the region?
And so on until Ayatollah Khamenei gets to the political heart of his message: "Enemies have been defeated in Islamic Iran. Thirty years of tricks and concpiracy such as coups, war, sanctions, propaganda, and, most recently, [their] pompous [intervention in the] election were the scene of their defeat."
0900 GMT: A later start this morning, as we catch up with the news and post an analysis --- based on discussions over the last 24 hours --- of problems facing the Green movement and the regime, as well as the difficulties for US foreign policy.
On the surface, of course, President Ahmadinejad will say all is well. He continued his I'm a World Leader, Get Me Out of Tehran tour on Wednesday with the refuge of discussions in Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez gave warm support, agreements were signed, and Ahmadinejad struck a defiant pose: "Today the people of Venezuela and Iran, friends and brothers in the trench warfare against imperialism, are resisting....[We will] stand together until the end."
However, if Ahmadinejad is using the trip to claim leadership, his absence from Tehran is ample opportunity for others to challenge that authority. The reformist Rooz Online gleefully documents more evidence, in state media as well as private media, of "whispers" in Parliament against the President. The questions so prominently raised last week over not only the Government's economic programme but also mismanagement and corruption are not dissipating; to the contrary, the lack of apparent answers is fuelling more grumbling and discontent.