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Entries in Jafar Panahi (3)


The Latest from Iran (5 September): Cracking Down after the Disappointment

1905 GMT: The Story to Watch on Monday. Another rift may be opening up between the President and Parliament....

Ahmadinejad's representatives, who have asked for the withdrawal of the 5th Budget Plan because they do not like the amendments of the Majlis, did not appear in the Coordination Commission on Saturday. MP Mohammad Hassan Abutorabi-Fard was sent to the President's office --- Ahmadinejad is on a tour of Tehran Province --- to convince it to change its line.

So far there has been no movement, and the Coordination Commission has stopped its work.

Peyke Iran notes that, six months after the start of the Iranian year, the 5th Plan has not been implemented.

1900 GMT: The Regime Line. The fervently pro-Government Raja News is repeating the claim of the Revolutionary Guard's Javan that 100 reformists met to plot against Mehdi Karroubi.

1845 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. Yesterday we reported the claim of Sajad Ghaderzadeh, the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, that his mother had been sentenced to 99 lashes because a photograph of a woman without headscarf --- mistakenly identified as Ashtiani --- appeared in The Times of London. The punishment is added to the death sentence that Ashtiani already faces for adultery.

An unusual development today, as Ashtiani's lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, is claiming that Ghaderzadeh was given false information. Mostafaei, who has fled Iran and is now in Norway, says that the story of 99 lashes is untrue.

Ghaderzadeh has appealed to Mostafaei not to make any more comments either on his mother's case or on his father's death.

NEW Iran Feature: An Open Letter to Detained Activist Shiva Nazar Ahari (Vahidmanesh)
NEW Iran Breaking: Uncertainty if Lawyer Nasrine Sotoudeh Arrested
Iran Special: How Do You Analyse a Non-Event? (Lucas)
Iran Overview: “A Small Rally to Make More Enemies” (Shahryar)
Iran Propaganda Special: The Green Sedition Festival
UPDATED Iran Video: The Claimed Attack on Karroubi’s House (2/3 September)
The Latest from Iran (4 September): A Qods Day Failure?

1630 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Bankers and businessmen report that most banks in the United Arab Emirates, a key trading partner and conduit for Iran, have stopped money transfers after the latest round of sanctions.

Dubai-based Iranian businessman Morteza Masoumzadeh, vice president of the Iranian Business Council, said that the latest sanctions have halved trade with Dubai, an important re-export centre for Iranian goods.

A banker with an Emirati bank said that transfers to Iran in dollars and euros are now forbidden, and have become "very difficult, if not impossible, in dirhams," the UAE's currency.

"Transactions by Iranian clients are closely monitored," the banker said, adding that certain activities by Iranian clients, such as transfers to Asia to purchase goods, are sometimes blocked.

"We used to deal with some banks in Tehran, but now it is almost impossible," the banker said.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday responded to trouble on another front, as Japan announced it is suspending new oil and gas investments in Iran and freezing the assets of 88 organizations and 24 individuals. Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said any country that imposes sanctions on Iran will create problems for their companies, waste their national interests, and pass on business opportunities to their rivals.

Better news for Tehran came with the resumption of gas export to Turkey after 12 days of disruption because of an explosion, thought to be the work of the Kurdish separatist movement PKK, that damaged a major pipeline.

1523 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. More sentences against youths: an appeals court in Mazandaran in northern Iran has confirmed the prison sentences and lashings for 10 university students.

1520 GMT: The Karroubi Siege (Wasn't Us Edition --- cont.). The head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, has blamed the US, Britain, and Zionists for the attack on Mehdi Karroubi's home.

1515 GMT: We have posted updates on the detention of defense attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh and on the regime efforts to blame "Western media" for the disappointment of the Qods Day rally.

1425 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Iran's Supreme Court has confirmed the death penalty for Kurdish activist Habibollah Golparipour.

1420 GMT: The Karroubi Siege (Wasn't Us Edition). The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has issued a statement denying involvement in the attacks on Mehdi Karroubi's home, blaming "rogue elements" for the violence and intimidation.

1415 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. A day marked by news of detentions and trials of student activists (see 0930 and 1105 GMT). It is reported that Sanandaj Azad University student Azad Kamangar was arrested by intelligence agents two days ago. His whereabouts are unknown.

Kamangar's uncle, Farzad Kamangar, was one of five Iranians executed on 9 May for alleged ties to the Kurdish separatist group PJAK.

1410 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch Update. As the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani asks Pope Benedict XVI (see 1220 GMT) to intervene on behalf of his mother, sentenced to death for adultery, the Vatican has issued a statement condemning stoning.

The Vatican's spokesman, the Reverend Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican had not received a formal appeal but was "following the case with attention and interest". He added, "When the Holy See is asked, in an appropriate way, to intervene in humanitarian issues with the authorities of other countries, as it has happened many times in the past, it does so not in a public way, but through its own diplomatic channels."

1220 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. Peyke Iran reports that Sajad Ghaderzadeh, the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, has appealed to Pope Benedict XVI and the Italian Government to seek clemency for his mother, who is sentenced to death for adultery.

Coincidentally, Keyhan newspaper --- which last week called French First Lady Carla Bruni a "prostitute" and said she should die after she joined the calls for leniency in Ashtiani's case --- has declared that Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, who publicly supported Ashtiani, is a "Mafia leader" and "a symbol of decadence, moral corruption, and sexual addiction".

1120 GMT: Academic Corner. Writing in Haaretz, Zvi Bar'el reports on tensions within Iran's universities. Included in the piece....

*An Iranian academic who writes Bar'el, "We will no longer be able to correspond using the previous e-mail address. I have begun work at Amirkabir University and I am afraid that the supervision of e-mails will be far more stringent," and notes difficulties with resources: "We try to glean whatever we can from the Internet, but the problem starts much earlier, with high-school students. They don't learn anything --- and I'm talking about top students who passed the exams with very high marks."

*The Supreme Leader's plan for the construction of another 1,000 mosques in schools at all levels and the addition of new religious subjects

*The difficulties for graduates in finding suitable employment, with some waiting more than three years to find suitable work.

1105 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Reformist politician Mohsen Safaei Farahani, who suffered a heart attack last week in Evin Prison, has been transferred to the Cardiac Clinic in Tehran.

The final court hearing has been held for two student activists, Bahareh Hedayat and Milad Asadi. We await word on further sentencing: in May, Hedayat received a 9 1/2-year prison term and Asadi was given six years.

1100 GMT: Stopping the Lawyers. As we await word on the fate of defense attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh, summoned to court yesterday, and note the general crackdown by the regime, we flash back to a November 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times, "In Iran, A Cadre of Lawyers Takes the Case of Justice".

0930 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Tehran’s court of appeals has confirmed the sentencing of Mohammadreza Rashad, a student activist at Azad University, to two years of suspended imprisonment. Rashad was arrested a few days after the demonstrations last December at his home and was held in detention for 3 months.

An appeals court has upheld the two-year sentence of Mohsen Abdi, a student activist at Hamadan’s Bou Ali Sina University. Abdi was also detained just after the Ashura demonstration.

0745 GMT: We have posted an open letter to journalist and activist Shiva Nazar Ahari, facing trial and a possible death penalty, from her colleague Parvaneh Vahidmanesh.

0715 GMT: Parliament and Government. Lost this week, amidst Qods Day and the Karroubi siege, is the news that 13 of 21 ministers in the Ahmadinejad Cabinet have been summoned to the Majlis. The ministers --- in science, education, social welfare, labour, foreign policy, oil, health care, interior, communications, industry, energy, and justice --- will be answering queries in several commissions. A list of 78 questions has already been posted.

0710 GMT: Film Corner. Director Jafar Panahi, detained for three months earlier this year and barred from leaving Iran, tells the US film newspaper Variety by phone, "I have learned something, and that is that I never lose hope. I hope that things will change even tomorrow, or in the next year so that I can start working again."

0645 GMT: Regrouping. A series of items on attempts by some conservatives and principlists to re-establish a common front....

Habibollah Asgarouladi used tough talk, denouncing those who "try to increase tensions everyday" and declaring that "system-breaking reformists have broken all bridges behind them" and "cannot return to the Revolution, Supreme Leader, and people". He added that some had tried to divide the clergy, but the clerics were too clever to accept this.

Asgarouladi capped out his move by saying that the "fitna" (sedition) movement was passing its last days, and the leaders were related to Al Qa'eda.

Other principlists are publicly discussing whether to make approaches to reformists or to focus on the reconstruction of their movement. Emad Afrough summarised that the solution to actual problems is that "the Revolution gets back in the hands of well-founded persons", declaring also that "there is unity in diversity".

0635 GMT: The Battle Within. Khabar Online reveals what occured during a meeting between the President and Mohsen Rezaei, Secretary of the Expediency Council and 2009 Presidential candidate, two months ago.

Khabar asserts that  Ahmadinejad was given nine points of advice. These included strengthening legal institutions, support for private sector, creating a uniform management structure and opposing sanctions, supporting the domestic economy, and supporting relations with neighbouring countries.

If the report is true, this meeting took place around the time that --- according to our sources --- Rezaei was meeting Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and key MP Ahmad Tavakoli to discuss the limiting of Ahmadinejad's authority and possibly his replacement.

Rumours of three other meetings with the President have been denied by the Rezaei camp.

0630 GMT: Speaking of Legitimacy. Prominent commentator Babak Dad has praised the letter of Fatemeh Karroubi, Mehdi Karroubi's wife, to the Supreme Leader during the siege of the Karroubi home. He notes that the mere fact that a woman would dare to write to Khamenei is an insult to the regime.

In the letter, Fatemeh Karroubi challenged the Supreme Leader by asking if he condoned the "unethical acts" of the pro-regime crowd around the Karroubi residence.

0625 GMT: The Regime Line. Javan, the newspaper linked to the Revolutionary Guard, has tried another line of attack, claiming that a group of about 100 members of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front members staged a rally against Mehdi Karroubi.

0620 GMT: Speaking of Legitimacy. The Palestinian Authority has struck back at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denunciation, in his Qods Day address on Friday, of the Israel-Palestinian direct talks.

It did so by going to the heart of Ahmadinejad's claim of authority. A spokesman said, "He who does not represent the Iranian people, who forged elections and who suppresses the Iranian people and stole the authority, is not entitled to talk about Palestine, or the President of Palestine."

0615 GMT: The Karroubi Siege and the Supreme Leader. This extract from an interview of Mehdi Karroubi's son Hossein, conducted by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, is striking: “My father believes the attackers were organized by the security forces and government. There is no point in filing a lawsuit against these actions, as we know it’s not going to go anywhere. The attackers have complete impunity.”

0610 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An Iranian activist, drawing from RAHANA, has updated the list of known political prisoners, posting 591 names.

0600 GMT: A busier than expected Saturday, with lots of follow-up on the apparent disappointment for the regime of its Qods Day show and some signs of quiet satisfaction amongst the opposition. One activist asserted, "The regime was heavily duped by the Greens.They "jaa khaali daadand" (sidestepped) and left Ahmadinejad alone with his misery."

The twist on Saturday, however, is that the Government was not ready to be left alone with misery. Instead, the evidence was of a follow-up --- as has happened on other occasions --- of intimidation. While more information came in of last week's attacks on Mehdi Karroubi's home and the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, there was more propaganda against "enemies" and detentions.

Perhaps the most significant development was the widening of the campaign against defence lawyers with the summoning of Nasrine Sotoudeh to court. She was held overnight, and we'll be looking today to see if she has been arrested.

We're also keeping an eye out for the outcome of the trial of prominent journalist and activist Shiva Nazar Ahari, which was supposed to take place yesterday.

One correction: last night we reported a demonstration of several hundred people in Sari in Mazandaran province in northern Iran was over discrimination in university admissions. It was actually over discrimination in alllocation of jobs.

The Latest from Iran (2 September): Karroubi, Mousavi, and Qods Day

2030 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kalemeh reports that leading reformist politician Mohsen Safaei Farahani, one of seven detainees who recently filed a complaint alleging military interference and manipulation in the 2009 Presidential election, suffered a heart attack three days ago and is in the Evin Prison medical facility.

2025 GMT: We are updating urgently in our separate entry on the siege of Mehdi Karroubi's house. Latest reported developments: a bodyguard in a coma, shots fired at assailants, electricity, water, and phones cut off. Fatemeh Karroubi, Mehdi Karroubi's wife, says the pro-regime crowd is "trying to kill her husband".

1905 GMT: Karroubi (and Qods Day) Alert. A fifth night of the "siege" of Mehdi Karroubi's house has begun, with Molotov cocktails fired and Karroubi's bodyguard firing into the air.

Meanwhile, we have posted the first video of tonight's rooftop "Allahu Akbars" (God is Great) . The chants have been a sign of protest throughout the post-election period.

NEW Latest Iran Video: The Rooftop “Allahu Akbars” (2 September)
NEW Pro-Regime Media Asks, “Which is Worse: Stoning or Prostitution?”
NEW Iran Document: Karroubi-Mousavi Meeting on Eve of Qods Day (31 August)
UPDATED Iran: The Latest on the Karroubi “Siege” and the Qods Day Rally
Iran Special: Thoughts on Protest, Stoning, and Human Rights (Shahryar)
The Latest from Iran (1 September): The Threat of Stoning

1900 GMT: Sports! (and Stoning). Football's Francesco Totti, striker and captain of Roma and star of the Italian national side, has signed the petition for clemency for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery.

1415 GMT: All is Well Update (cont. --- see 1045 GMT). Video of today's "Control in Tehran" operation, taken "discreetly" by observers, has emerged.

Two pictures from a set in Mehr, via Peyke Iran, of today's "Control in Tehran" operation....

1315 GMT: Video of Day. Human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, forced to leave Iran this summer because of threat of arrest, has been re-united with his wife and daughter in Norway.

Mostafaei's clients include Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery. His wife was detained when Iranian authorities could not find Mostafaei to arrest him.

1310 GMT: Economy Watch. Trade union activist Mehdi Kouhestani-Nejad tells Deutsche Welle that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is now the biggest employer in Iran's petrochemical, communications, and services sectors. Kouhestani-Nejad also claims the IRGC has taken over "bankrupt" companies, arresting managers, in areas such as steel.

1253 GMT: No Hysteria at All Statements of Day. Former Minister of Culture Mohammad -Hossein Saffar-Harandi explains that if security forces had not intervened last year, there would have been one million casualties. He added that Green media are "censoring" the good work of the government.

Pro-Ahmadinejad MP Hamid Rasaei declared that the recent remarks of former President Mohammad Khatami are designed to cover up $1 billion that he has received from foreign agencies for "regime change".

The reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front has responded to similar "$1 billion" accusations from Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi with the claim that he is falsifying reality to avoid the truth about the political and security situation. The IIPF adds that the slander of reformists is a pretext for more persecution.

1245 GMT: Bringing Out a Crowd. The Iranian authorities lay out their plan: there will be special traffic restrictions with 1500 buses to carry people and free use of the metro in Tehran.

1150 GMT: All is Well Update (cont.). The completely secure Iranian regime has reportedly blocked the website of Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib.

1145 GMT: Siege. It isn't just Mehdi Karroubi who has been intimidated this week by regime supporters. Zahra Rahnavard, activist and wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, was accosted by plainclothes forces on a Tehran street.

Kalemeh reports that the incident occurred a few nights ago in an alley close to Rahnavard's residence, as she was surrounded and interrogated about her activities during the Revolution and her commitment to religion. Rahnavard reportedly responded, “I will not respond to a street interrogation but I will be willing to respond to your questions at my office.”

1140 GMT: Picture of the Day. A photograph of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery, on the facade of a government building in Rome:

1135 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The wife of activist Arjang Davoudi, who launched a hunger strike in jail 50 days ago, says that he is in grave condition.

1130 GMT: Stopping the Lawyers. Earlier this week we wrote about the raid on the office of defence attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh by Iranian authorities. Sotoudeh has now told Rooz Online that she was given a summons to appear in court within three days on charges of “assembly and conspiracy to disrupt national security and propaganda against the regime".

Sotoudeh's case is the latest in a string of arrests and intimidations. Abdolfatah Soltani and Mohammad Ali Dadkhah spent months in Evin Prison on national security charges. Mohammad Oliyayifard is still detained, while Mohammad Seifzadeh awaited his trial later this summer. Khalil Bahramian has been interrogated at Evin, and Saleh Nikbakht has an open case at the judiciary’s branch in the prison. Mohammad Mostafaei has fled Iran to avoid arrest.

Sotoudeh said, “The gentlemen [of the regime] plan to put so much pressure on lawyers to make legal defense, especially of political defendants, impossible.”

1120 GMT: The Battle Within. Hooman Majd offers an analysis in Foreign Policy which, despite his acknowledgement of "the public feuds between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and seemingly everyone else in the entire country", turns into, "Move Along, Nothing to See Here":
Put simply, now is not the time for petty infighting. And even those conservatives who retain their distaste for Ahmadinejad won't want to jeopardize their good standing with Khamenei -- especially as the 2013 presidential election approaches -- by appeasing Iran's enemies, real or imagined.

1115 GMT: Academic Corner. Writing in Tehran Bureau, Ali Chenar reviews the regime's pressure on universities, considering the resignation of Sharif University head Saeed Sohrabpour and the removal of Zanjan University head Yousef Sobouti.

1045 GMT: All is Well Update. On the eve of Qods (Palestine) Day, the regime is already showing the levels of mass public support it is enjoying. Tehran police have launched the operation "Control in Tehran". Police commander Hossein Sajedi-Nia explained that the heavy presence of security forces on the streets was a regular "exercise" to contain "crimes", occupying all "critical points" of the city to guarantee the people's "safety" on Qods Day.

Saham News claims that disturbance of G-Mail services started hours ago to prevent people from forwarding routes for tomorrow's protests, and ADSL service is also disrupted.

0830 GMT: Thought for the Day. Film director Jafar Panahi, detained earlier this year and barred from leaving Iran, in an interview with Middle East Online:

"There have always been restrictions, but over the past year it was the worst. I cannot be pessimistic though. Limitations have always existed, and this era will eventually come to an end too. It's important to have patience and resistance."

0825 GMT: Talk to Us. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Wednesday that Tehran is still waiting for a response from the Vienna Group (US, France, Russia, International Atomic Energy Agency) on resumption of talks on uranium enrichment: "They have still not officially announced the date and venue for the new round of talks."

0740 GMT: We have posted a feature, "Pro-Regime Media Asks, 'Which is Worse: Stoning or Prostitution?'".

0710 GMT: Academic Corner --- The Counter-Attack. We have been reporting all week on new regime threats against universities. There is news from the other side, however....

An open letter from the "Islamic Association of Democracy", claiming to represent students of Tehran University, asks Minister of Higher Kamran Daneshjoo: "Wasn't it enough to attack the dormitories [after the June 2009 election] and dismiss students and professors? Do you have to u try to destroy free thinking and security at the universities?

A letter to Daneshjoo from 38 professors demands the restitutition of Professor Yousef Sobouti, recently replaced, as head of Zanjan University.

And students of Mehdi Karroubi's campaign committee have asked Green supporters to join Qods Day processions: "come to the streets for your lost rights".

0705 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Peyke Iran claims that the sister of detained journalist Abdolreza Tajik was interrogated for four hours and that Tajik's lawyer Mohammad Sharif has been blocked from meeting him.

0655 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Mehdi Karroubi met with the family of the political prisoner Mostafa Tajzadeh, a prominent reformist politician, yesterday.

0630 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Der Westen claims that up to 100 "front" companies in Germany are moving arms to Iran.

0605 GMT: Flu Alert! EA took great pride in its front-line coverage of the 2009 swine flu crisis. So we have to note the video, posted by Peyke Iran, in which Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami --- who is leading Friday Prayers in Tehran on Qods Day --- declares that swine flu is the outcome of the sins of the West.

0600 GMT: Sports! The US defeated Iran, 88-51, in the qualifying rounds of the World Basketball Championship on Wednesday. We wait to see if Max Fisher's pre-match prediction comes true:
After all the harsh rhetoric and low-level violence, three decades of Iran-U.S. tension will come to a close this afternoon. If the U.S. wins, Iran has agreed it will give up its nuclear program and cede power to the Green Movement. If Iran wins, President Obama says he will implement sharia law, although he was probably going to do that anyway.

0550 GMT: Execution (Ashtiani) Watch. Rooz Online publishes an open letter from the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery, to "human rights defenders across the universe". Sajad Ghaderzadeh writes:
Why do they extract false confessions from my mother by force and broadcast them? Why have they prevented my mother from seeing her attorney or us since then? Is it not because signs of torture are still visible on her body and they do not want any witnesses? Have they delayed visitations until the signs are healed? Why do they plant false evidence against my mother? Why do they open a case that was previously closed? Why have my father’s murder files gone missing? Why do they not allow my mother’s case to proceed normally like any another case? We are truly disappointed that we were born in the Islamic Republic; and that we were abandoned by our own family after the sham show on the Islamic Republic’s television; and that we are forced to tolerate this life of humiliation.

Life killed us. Death, where are you?

0540 GMT: We open this morning with two features. We have an English translation of Tuesday's meeting between Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, discussing tomorrow's Qods (Palestine) Day and the general state of Iran. The discussion was primarily about economic, political, and legal problems; despite rumours, there was no call for an opposition rally on Friday.

We also post an update on the harassment of Karroubi by pro-regime groups, as his home was surrounded for a fourth consecutive night.

Despite the intimidation, Karroubi remains vocal. Rooz Online summarises his recent remarks on military interference and the "fraud" of the 2009 Presidential election.

The Latest from Iran (1 September): The Threat of Stoning

1750 GMT: Repression. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has issued a new statement, "Authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran are continuing to arrest and jail civil society activists while persecuting and prosecuting independent lawyers."

“With a majority of Iranian human rights activists and lawyers already imprisoned or forced into exile, their remaining colleagues are systematically being taken down by the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” Aaron Rhodes, a Campaign spokesperson said.

1740 GMT: At the Movies. Esteemed director Jafar Panahi, who was detained for three months earlier this year, has been barred by Iran authorities from attending the Venice Film Festival.

Panahi's short film "Accordion" is showing at the event, but he claims he has officially been banned from making movies for five years. He says, ""Despite having been released, I am still not free to travel outside my country to attend film festivals. When a filmmaker is not allowed to make films, it is as if his mind was still imprisoned. Maybe he is not locked up in a small cell, but he keeps wandering in a much bigger jail."

NEW Iran Special: Thoughts on Protest, Stoning, and Human Rights (Shahryar)
Iran: Ahmadinejad’s Trash Talk (Theodoulou)
Iran Witness: Activist Mahboubeh Karami on Six Months in Detention
Iran: The Latest on the Karroubi “Siege” and the Qods Day Rally
The Latest from Iran (31 August): Unity? What Unity?

1515 GMT: Karroubi Watch. In a meeting with clerics and students of Qom, Mehdi Karroubi has said the intrusion of some security and intelligence forces in hawzah (religious circles) is "very alarming".

1500 GMT: Economy Watch. Conservative MP Ali Motahari, a member of Parliament's Communications Commission, has issued a warning over privatisation: "We oppose any kind of monopoly in the (tele)communications sector."

Khabar Online reports an extensive reshuffle of officials in Iran's national oil company is on the way, concluding that the move is "not sensible at all".

An EA correspondent reads the report as a warning of consolidation of power by Ahmadinejad allies.

1440 GMT: Today's We-Are-Not-Scared-at-All Message. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has declared, "If people stage a riot or coup, we must stop them with security forces."

1425 GMT: Another Slap at Ahmadinejad's Foreign Policy. Hossein Sobhani-Nia, a member of the National Security Council, has repeated the Supreme Leader's criticism of the President's appointment of four special representatives for international matters.

Sobhani-Nia declared that Ayatollah Khamenei had said that the Foreign Ministry's position should not be damaged. He emphasised that, for unity in foreign policy and in accordance with the Constitution, all decisions must be made by the Foreign Ministry. Parallel organisations should not stop that and division in foreign policy should not prevent Iran from reaching its goals.

1415 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Teacher's union activist Mokhtar Asadi has been released on bail after two months in detention.

1400 GMT: The Karrroubis Fight the Siege. Fatemeh Karroubi, the wife of Mehdi Karroubi, has written to the Supreme Leader to condemn the attacks on her home and family by pro-regimes crowds.

Fatemeh Karroubi asks the Leader: “What do the disagreements between you and my husband over issues, that are evident to all by now, have to do with our right to live?”

She pulls no punches as she describes the crowd chanting “derogatory words” against Mehdi Karroubi and “writing slogans on the walls of the residential complex and the neighbours' houses": “These obvious crimes are taking place with your support and in front of the security forces who do not dare to approach these attackers.”

So, noting the policy of “attacking the family and neighbours of political opponents”, Fatemeh Karroubi asks Ayatollah Khamenei if he condones such “unethical acts".

1350 GMT: Claim of the Day. From the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, Mojtaba Zolnour: "Israel is out to kill the hidden (12th) Imam."

1345 GMT: Academic Corner. Minister of Science Kamran Daneshjoo, who threatened universities with "destruction" if they were not Islamic enough, now wants a referendum on their fate.

Iranian authorities have "retired" almost 20 senior officials at universities in recent months.

0920 GMT: A Break in Service for Birthdays and Monkeys. It is Ms EA's birthday today, and we're celebrating by going to Monkey Forest --- yes, really.

I'll be away until late afternoon but, as usual, I know I can rely on EA's top-flight readers to bring in the latest news and analysis.

0825 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mojgan Ebadi and Nasim Rouhi, both of the Baha'i community, have been re-arrested 24 hours after their release from prison.

RAHANA also reports that more activists have been detained in northern Khuzestan in western Iran.

0815 GMT: The Next Campaign? International attention to the case of 18-year-old Ebrahim Hamidi, sentenced to death for sodomy, is growing. Writers Philippe Besson and Gilles Leroy organised an open letter by French activists, publicised by Le Monde last week.

0715 GMT: If You Don't Accept Stoning, You are a Prostitute (cont.). The Foreign Ministry may have told off "hard-line" media for calling Carla Bruni, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a "prostitute" after she criticised the death sentence handed down to Sakineh Mohammad Ashtiani; however, the message does not seem to have gotten through.

Iran Newspaper on Network (INN), citing British reports of Bruni's past affair with singer Mick Jagger, declares, "Western Media approved implicitly the fact that Carla Bruni is a prostitute". (The story has been reprinted in the almost surreal website More on this "news outlet" later in the week.)

0655 GMT: Sieges for Qods Day. Pro-regime crowds, who surrounded the home of Mehdi Karroubi on Sunday and Monday night, reportedly moved to the house of reformist politician and cleric Abdollah Nouri on Tuesday evening.

0650 GMT: Freedom of the Press? Daneshjoo News reports that several journalists of Nasim-e Bidari magazine were threatened and interrogated on Tuesday.

0645 GMT: On Air. RASA TV, the Internet-based opposition channel, is now broadcasting.

0605 GMT: Labour Front. Writing for In These Times, Kari Lyderson reports on the continuing repression of Iran's trade unionists, specifically members of the Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate.

0600 GMT: We have posted a special feature by Josh Shahryar, reflecting on the reaction to his speech at last Saturday's rally in Washington against stoning, "Thoughts on Protest, Stoning, and Human Rights".

0500 GMT: We noted earlier this week how the controversy had grown over the death sentence for adultery --- initially to be carried out by stoning, though that has been suspended --- handed down on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani; indeed, the Iranian Government was now appearing very unsettled by the reaction.

Although one website supporting the Government has tried to deflect the issue with the question, "Does the West Want a Real Discussion with Iran?", it is unlikely to disappear. There are reports of two other people condemned to die by stoning. Yesterday Ashtiani's son Sajad said his mother was subjected to a "mock execution", told last Saturday that she was to be hanged at dawn on Sunday.

Ashtiani wrote her will and embraced her cellmates in Tabriz Prison just before the call to morning prayer, but nothing happened as she waited. Sajad Ashtiani said, "Pressure from the international community has so far stopped them from carrying out the sentence but they're killing her every day by any means possible."

Sajad Ashtiani added that he had been told by Iranian authorities that the file on his father's murder case had been lost. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, first convicted of adultery, was later found guilty of complicity in the homicide.