Sunday September 13 – the daily story

The main headlines

Twitter and some Persian news sites have been awash with reports that Ayatollah Khamenei issued an arrest warrant  against Mehdi Karoubi two weeks ago, but that Ayatollah Rafsanjani then warned that if it was carried out he would resign all his official positions, most notably Head of the Expediency Council and Head of the Assembly of Experts. Some reports suggested vRafsajani had already quit, but this does not seem to be the case. It now emerges that the information was originally published in the middle of a New York Times report on Khamenei’s Friday prayers speech. NYT

Alireza Beheshti, Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s key adviser and his representative on a reformist committee investigating prison abuse, has been released after five days in detention. Reformist websites said the release, albeit on heavy bail, followed heavy pressure from senior figures in the establishment and was seen as blow to the hardliners. One of his first visitors was Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and other members of  the Khomeini family who performed the morning prayer with him.  PressTV

— Human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a lawyer and member of the Centre for the Defence of Human rights in Iran,  was released from prison today after posting 500 million tomans ($500,000) bail. He had been arrested in his office on July 8.

— ParlemanNews said General Mohammad Moghadam, the head of the veterans’ faction of Moussavi’s election campaign who was arrested a few days ago, was released on Friday night.

Mamousta Borhan Ali, an interim Friday prayer leader in the Iranian Kurdish capital of Sanandaj and part of President Ahmadinejad’s Kurdish election campaign, was shot dead at his home by three gunmen  on Saturday.  It follows a failed attempt to assassinate a Revolutionary Court judge in Sanandaj earlier last week. PressTV

The mass trial of dissidents resumes Monday, this time with the general media allowed in. PressTV

So just how much did the new British Ambassador Simon Gass grovel to Iran when he presented his credentials today? There’s not been much output from the media or the British Foreign Office to cast doubt on the surprising claim in Iranian reports that the ceremony represented a “humiliation for Britain”.  Fars quoted the new ambassador as calling for expanded relations, adding:  “Britain is not at all proud of what has happened between the two countries in the past. Britain aspires to establish modern relations and expand ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran based of mutual respect. The current conditions have created a proper opportunity for improving our relations and I fully agree that in the development of relations, we should look forward.” That mutual respect line sounds interesting. And the current ‘auspicious’ conditions? Which ones would those be Mr Grass? Fars

— For his part President Ahmadinejad said at the ceremony that he hoped Britain had  learned from past mistakes. “The Iranian nation will let no one interfere in its internal affairs. We hope the British government will correct its mistakes.” PressTV, Fars

— It’s obviously not all sweetness and light between the two countries though, as  Fars reported that a “British-affiliated opposition centre running anti-Islamic Republic propaganda” had been raided by security forces in Hormozgan province. The head of the centre “is suspected of having relations with certain anti-revolutionary satellite channels and receiving financial aid from Britain”. Fars

Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, 60, Ahmadinejad’s deputy for legal and parliamentary affairs and a former governor of Kurdistan, was today named first vice president, the position left vacant after the row over the President’s previous nominee, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.  PressTV

The Presidency is to sue Grand Ayatollah Yusef Sanei  for allegedly insulting President Ahmadinejad in his Qadr night speech. “The complaint will be submitted to the Special Court for Clergy,” an anonymous source told Fars news agency. AFP

The Pentagon has notified Congress over the weekend of plans for a $7.8bn sale of Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries – its most advanced version – and related equipment  to Turkey, a deal that may sour the Nato ally’s relations with its Iranian neighbour.  Hurriyet

— Tehran and Ankara have agreed a deal  to pipe 35 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Turkmenistan to Turkey via Iran. Tehran Times

Iran is set to allow what is believed to be its first transsexual marriage after the father of the bride told a court he would drop his objections if the male partner underwent a medical examination to prove a sex change operation had indeed left him a proper male.  Brisbane Times

Iran will start drilling its first exploratory well in the Caspian Sea by early October, the semi-official Mehr news agency said.  easybourse

In more detail

The Iran Rises blog has published a full translation of the report by the three-man Judiciary panel that rejected Mehdi Karoubi’s evidence of prison rape.

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