Thursday July 23 – the daily story

Rahnavard’s brother held – Zahran Rahnavard, the wife of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, has conrimed reports that her brother has been detained, but warned the authorities against trying to extract a false confession from him. She said Shahpour Kazemi, 62, had been arrested more than a month ago and that all efforts to secure his release had failed. “If you force out confessions from Kazemi or publish hundreds of papers against him, neither I nor our people will believe any of it.” Straits Times

Ahmadinejad pleads for time — President Ahmadinejad has stood by his refusal to sack Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei as Vice President, explaining his apparent defiance of an order from Ayatollah Khamanei by saying he wanted time to explain the appointment. “I need time and another opportunity to fully explain my real feelings and assessment of Mr Mashaei,” he said in a speech at a farewell ceremony for Mashaei at the tourism organisation he has headed until now. He again described Mashaei as a “great, honest and pious man,” and added: “Some are questioning why am I so interested in Mr. Mashai and I respond that it is for a thousand reasons. One is that when one sits and talks with him, you feel you are talking to yourself, you feel no distance. His heart is clear like mirror.” AP

In other news:

Hundreds of protesters  today began what they vowed would be a days-long demonstration outside the UN headquarters in New York against political repression in Iran. Some of the demonstrators have also begun a  hunger strike. Straits Times

The father of a young Iranian killed in the post-election violence has been arrested, along with his two other sons who tried to prevent the arrest, the Nowrouz News website reported. The arrests follow an interview the father gave to the BBC Persian service on Tuesday saying the family had been warned not to hold a ceremony marking his son’s death. The officials who made the arrests tore down photographs of the dead boy and messages of condolences hanging on the walls outside the family’s home. Washington TV

Quote of the week comes from an unnamed American  intelligence official who told journalists that one of Osama bin Laden’s sons was probably killed by a US missile strike in Pakistan earlier this year. Agents were “80 to 85 per cent” sure Saad bin Laden was dead, but without a body it was hard to be certain. It usually is. The Americans believe the Al Qaeeda leader’s third son had fled to Pakistan after spending several years under house arrest in Iran. Independent

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, said at the start of a four-day trip to Argentina to rally support against Iran that if the Iranians develop nuclear capabilities it will start an arms race in the Middle East that would threaten the world. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile told the BBC Washington is still willing to engage with Iran, but political turmoil there means a response is unlikely.  AP, BBC

Israel aborted a test of the Arrow 2 rocket, a rare glitch in an ongoing effort to improve a system developed to intercept Iranian ballistic missiles. Christian Science Monitor

Bagher Fazlankarani, Iran’s health minister,  has advised those who have made an earlier Haj pilgrimage to avoid another one in order to reduce their risk of getting swine flu. PressTV

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