Monday September 14 – the daily story

The main headlines

Three grandsons of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri  have been arrested following the release of a new letter by the ayatollah today, his Facebook site reports. No further details were immediately available. Montazeri had sent a message addressed to other Grand Ayatollahs today urging them to follow the Prophet Mohammad’s advice and not be silent to all the oppression and violations of human rights. He said they should once and for all correct the government’s wrong policies and resolve the current crisis over its illegitimacy. He said Iran was now in the grip of “a military guardianship, not the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists”. He adds: “The ultimate consequence of such trends is an even greater destruction of the nation’s belief in its clerics, in the Shia faith and in our dear Islam.” Some observers have suggested his message was tantamount to a call for an uprising against the regime. Full text of statement

— Mohammad Nourizadeh, a filmmaker and former chief editor of the hardline Kayhan newspaper,  has posted a scathing open letter to Ayatollah Khamenei on his blog deploring the brutality and crimes committed by the regime and demanding that the Supreme Leader apologise to the Iranian people. Nourizadeh, reportedly widely respected among Iranian conservatives,  attacks Khamenei for never taking responsibility for any of country’s problems and strongly condemns his performance as commander-in-chief in the events that happened after the election. AP

Mehdi Karoubi today held a surprise two-hour meeting with Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani about his accusations of prison rape. Qodratollah Alikhani, a Qazvin MP and minority leader who sat in on the meeting, described it as “positive and friendly”. Surprisingly, he said no mention was made of the special judiciary committee report branding Karoubi’s claims as politically motivated falsehoods. The two men agreed that no details of the talks should be made public. However some Persian media later suggested the thrust of the meeting was Larijani passing on a plea from Ayatollah Khamenei for Karoubi to shut up about the rapes for the time being. Karoubi apparently refused.

— Karoubi has written an open “final letter” to the “honourable, heroic people of Iran” which, while explaining his battle to bring the perpetrators of sexual abuse in prison to justice, declares  that he is closing his correspondence on the subject. He writes: “The three member committee [set up by the Head of Judiciary, which has ruled that Karoubi’s evidence is false] has completed its task and has asked that I be put on trial, but I leave judgment to the people and the Lord and here I conclude the letters I have written in this regard.” He adds, however, that he will present the letter to Sadeq Larijani, the head of judiciary, and urge him to ignore the pressure of “outside forces” in his judgement.  Karoubi’s long letter says it is clear he did the right thing by the “chaotic and hasty response” of those he was targeting. “Their obscenity has gone so far that, instead of putting the culprits and wrongdoers on trial, they speak of putting Mehdi Karoubi on trial. They are unaware that the real trial will take place in the courtroom of the people:  we must go to them and see who they find guilty and who they believe is the voice of a truth-seeker. Lord, I come to you for refuge of the atrocities they have collectively inflicted, which are not only a disgrace for the Islamic Republic, but for Iran, and which have disgraced justice and the Islamic court of law.” Pedestrian for the full text

— The letter would seem to answer questions about a report by Fars news agency Sunday claiming that Karoubi had “recanted his claims of prison rape in a letter to Judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani.” Fars said that after conceding  the fallacy of his claims Karoubi had asked  Larijani not to seek further evidence. In fact, as the Fars report eventually makes clear, Karoubi has declared himself unsure only about the facts of the death of Saideh Pouraghayi after new contradictory evidence came to light. However, a series of  posts on the Iran Rises blog try to make the case that the stories of both Pouraghayi and Taraneh Moussavi are in fact hoaxes. Iran Rises

— Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, the Prosecutor-General, has reiterated that Karoubi’s  claims of prison rape are baseless.  In a TV interview late Sunday he said the three-man investigation panel set up by the Head of Judiciary Sadeq Larijani had not even bothered to instigate any judicial proceedings, merely reporting their findings back to Larijani.  “Karroubi himself knows his claims are not true, but he is not going to confess what he is aware of.” PressTV

— That’s certainly not the way the dissident cleric sees it, with a “source close to Karoubi” virtually accusing Ejei of lying in an interview with Rooz Online. The source said that during their meeting with Karoubi the three committee members “were so shaken by the evidence and the meeting’s atmosphere was so positive that Mr Karoubi said he was sure something would be done. There was no doubt in the minds of the three members … that violations have taken place. It seems though that the analyses are done not by the judiciary but by higher authorities.” A key question, the source added, was why, if the allegations were baseless, the authorities were sparing no effort to destroy the evidence and silence those investigating it?  Rooz

Another day, another mass trial, only here’s a brilliant new twist: no names, no pack drill. As the latest hearing opened in Tehran today, the judge instructed the press not to report the names of any of the accused. Instead, everyone sat back and listened to Ali-Ahmad Akbari , Tehran’s deputy prosecutor-general, read out a “general indictment” that majored on how the United States used the internet to spread false information about the post-election violence.  With US help, he said, social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube had tried to “influence Iranian users”.  Washington had sought to instigate media frenzy by making membership [presumably of Facebook and YouTube] available to “rioters and terrorists”. Later, when they got down to individual charges, initials only were used. PressTV

— A A, an IT expert who supposedly worked for the Moussavi campaign, said in his “confession” he had been deceived by certain western countries. “It seemed like I was on a train whose destination had been designed and specified by the secret agencies of the US, western countries, the Zionist regime and anti-Revolutionary groups,” he said. Fars

— Then there was A B N, reportedly a relative of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, who was wheeled in to reject Karoubi’s claims of sexual abuse.  “I did not witness any torture or offence against detainees during the period of my detention. Also, I did not experience any mistreatment.” Fars

— Seyed Ali Asqar Hosseini, a lawyer for one of the unnamed defendants, “lauded the desirable conditions and his freedom in defending his client” during the session, according to Fars, underlining that all lawyers were given the chance to defend their clients in a free environment. “What is important is that today lawyers could defend their clients freely and we faced no hurdle in presenting the defence.” Fars

The stage is being set for a showdown next Friday when the nation celebrates Qods Day in suppprt of Palestinians. Although Ayatollah Khamenei made clear during his Friday prayers sermon that any demonstrations should stick to the Palestinian issue, the Green movement has  continued to make clear its intention to join the marches to pursue its own agenda, setting the stage for potentially lethal clashes and, some fear, a final move by the state to arrest reformist leaders.  The mowjcamp website says The Green Wave will follow the routes designated by the government “but will bring their Green symbols and will protest the coup agency’s behaviour that treats its own people exactly the way occupiers are treating Palestinians.” Today the Assembly of Combatant Clergymen announced that its members will join the demonstration. “Qods Day is the day to protest against oppression, occupation and assault,” a statement declared, appearing to fall short of suggesting the clergymen would display all-out public support for the Greens.

Iran has agreed to talks with the US and other major powers on October 1 in what is billed as a final effort to stave off new UN sanctions over its nuclear programme. The US said today it will be sending send its third-ranking diplomat, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, to represent America.Guardian, PressTV, voanews

US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said American officials were worried about Venezuela’s arms buildup and the possibility of  nuclear transfers between Iran and Venezuela. townhall.com

— Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United States has written to New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau describing his accusations that Venezuela has given any nuclear help to Iran and that its banks have financial links with Iranian institutions as shameful. El Universal

Four foreign banks from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Qatar and India have received initial permits to open branches in Iran. Tehran Times

In more detail:

The incredibly good Pedestrian blog has a wry piece on the Iranian version of ‘one law for the rich and one for the poor’.

Tribune Media Services carries a lengthy interview conducted last week with Mehdi Karoubi.

Payvand has an account of a new American offer to allow Iran to get its hands on spare parts for American-made planes.

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