Regime puts 100 detainees on trial
Ahmdinejad explains sacking — President Ahmadinejad says he sacked Gholam-Hossein Mohsen-Ejei as Intelligence Minister because the ministry handled the post-election unrest badly and was guilty in some cases of “blatant negligence”, according to PressTV. Its website says that in a recent meeting the President denied the sacking was related to an alleged cabinet row over the appointment of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as First Vice President. Instead, he said, it was the result of poor performance over two years, culminating in serious failures during the recent unrest. Since the sacking Ahmadinejad has appointed himself “caretaker minister”, a move that has been dubbed unconstitutional by at least one MP.
Ahmadinejad said Ejei had failed to heed an order to dismiss two of his deputies at the ministry. The deputies were not named (but see below). He also attacked Ejei over the handling of the arrest in 2007 of Haleh Esfandiari, the Iranian-American director of the Middle East programme at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington. After lengthy questioning by the intelligence ministry, signing an alleged confession, and spending 110 days in Evin prison, Esfandiari was freed on bail and allowed to leave the country. She was held at the time of a roundup of a number of Iranians working for American institutions the Iranians seem convinced are plotting against them. One of them, Kian Tajbakhsh, was again arrested during the recent unrest and is awaiting trial. Ahmadinejad said the arrest of Esfandiari was based “on an erroneous understanding of the political process”, without elaborating.
But the president’s most scathing comment were reserved for the way the ministry handled the recent unrest. “Two weeks before the riots started, the Foreign Ministry reported that it was very suspicious that a significant number of people were travelling to Iran from Britain. But the Intelligence Ministry did not pursue the matter. The Ministry also did not act as it was expected in the recent unrest and there were blatant cases of negligence.” His comment may be related to recent reports on Persian websites that the key to the falling out was Ejei’s failure to produce, at Ahmadinejad’s request, evidence of serious foreign involvement in the “velvet revolution”. According to an unverified document posted on the sites, ministry officials had been ordered to compile files and interviews of detainees to show how outsiders were responsible for the unrest. The response was that no evidence could be found of foreign hands behind the troubles.
Subsequently two deputy ministers – cultural and counter-intelligence – were sacked or resigned, depending on different reports that have surfaced (possibly the two deputies mentioned by Ahmadinejad above). It is evident that the effort to come up with “evidence” of foreign involvement in the unrest continues apace, and Ahmadinejad is said to have installed a parallel operation in the ministry called Tehran Intelligence, established by officers from the Tehran Province Security Organisation linked to the intelligence operations of the Revolutionary Guards. PressTV, Wikipedia