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Iran Uprising Blogging (Wednesday July 1)

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I'm liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout. Email me with any news or thoughts, or follow me on Twitter. Send me instant messages at nico.pitney@gmail.com or njpitney on AIM. Scroll down for news related to the front-page headlines. Local Iran time is 8 1/2 hours ahead of Eastern time.

Thursday's updates are here.

10:57 PM ET -- EU considers withdrawing envoys from Tehran. European officials are discussing whether to withdraw the ambassadors of all 27 members nations as a reaction to Iran's arrest of nine employees of the British Embassy in Tehran last weekend.

The Iranian reaction to the possible withdrawal was typically "bellicose," reports the New York Times:

The official, Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the armed forces chief of staff, was quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency as saying that because of the European Union's "interference" in the postelection unrest, the bloc had "totally lost the competence and qualifications needed for holding any kind of talks with Iran."

He added, "We believe that they don't have the right to speak of negotiations before apologizing for their obvious mistakes and showing their regret in practice," Fars said.

8:19 PM ET -- Khatami calls election outcome a "coup" against democracy. The former Iranian president's strong statement today is his latest condemning the disputed election. Voice of America reports:

Former Iranian president and leading reformist Mohammad Khatami says the outcome of Iran's disputed presidential election is a "coup" against democracy.

The New York Times reports that the Iranian reaction to the possible withdrawal was typically beillicose":

The official, Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the armed forces chief of staff, was quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency as saying that because of the European Union's "interference" in the postelection unrest, the bloc had "totally lost the competence and qualifications needed for holding any kind of talks with Iran."

He added, "We believe that they don't have the right to speak of negotiations before apologizing for their obvious mistakes and showing their regret in practice," Fars said.

Khatami also accused Iran's government of suppressing the rights of people to protest the election results...

...Defeated presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi also criticized the election outcome Wednesday, calling the government led by Mr. Ahmadinejad "illegitimate."

6:15 PM ET -- SMS service reportedly reactivated. An Iranian on Twitter reports that text messaging has returned to Iran. "SMS Service Is Reactivited In Iran, After About 3 Weeks," he writes. The Persian-language social network Balatarin has several similar reports.

6:03 PM ET -- Newsweek again calls on Iran to release reporter.

Maziar Bahari has been detained in Iran since June 21 without access to a lawyer. An Iranian state news agency reports that Bahari has said he participated in a Western media effort to promote irresponsible reporting in Iran. NEWSWEEK strongly disputes that charge, and defends Bahari's work. Maziar Bahari is a veteran journalist whose long career, both in print and in documentary filmmaking, has been accurate, even-handed, and widely respected. NEWSWEEK again calls for his immediate release.

5:21 PM ET -- Iran to be 'front and center' during Obama's Russia trip. "Responding to Iran's political crackdown and nuclear program will be 'at front and center' of President Barack Obama's visit to Russia and the G8 summit in Italy next week, a US official said. ... [Senior Obama aide Denis] McDonough said that Obama was "quite gratified" at the role played by Russia in forging the G8 foreign ministers' statement. Moscow had previously commented that the demonstrations were an internal affair. On Friday, the G8 expressed full respect for Iran's sovereignty but deplored post-election violence there and urged Iran to respect fundamental human rights."

5:08 PM ET -- Mousavi to release documents 'proving election fraud.' Iran's state-backed PressTV reports on the next stages of Mousavi's work to remain a viable opposition leader, including a new organization focused on citizens' rights. This is a crucial step for the Green movement to remain organized and active despite Iran's crackdown on demonstrations.

As the Iranian opposition continues to express skepticism about the election result, defeated candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi says he will present documents that prove electoral fraud.

Mousavi, who has rejected the result of Iran's presidential election as fraudulent, said on Wednesday that a number of Iranian scholars are set to form a committee to preserve the vote of the people.

The committee aims to "make public documents proving fraud and irregularities in the election," Mousavi said in his latest statement issued on Wednesday.

The opposition leader added that the committee would pursue its objections to the vote result through the judiciary.

"I will join this committee as well," Mousavi confirmed.

The AFP has a related report, focusing on the new organization that Mousavi will form:

Iranian presidential election runner up Mir Hossein Mousavi on Wednesday renewed a demand for a complete re-run of the vote and pledged to help set up a new group to defend citizen's rights.

Another defeated candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, saw his reformist newspaper Etemad Melli shut down after he denounced the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as invalid and the new government as not legitimate. [...]

Mousavi said a group of politicians including himself have decided to create "a legal political body to defend citizen's rights and votes that were crushed in the election, to publish documents about the frauds and irregularities and to start legal action."

5:07 PM ET -- Britain turns up the heat on Iran. "Gordon Brown today expressed 'deep disappointment' at the behaviour of the regime in Tehran following the expulsion of British diplomats and the detention of Embassy staff. The Prime Minister said Tehran's actions were 'unjustified' and 'unacceptable' and he condemned the suppression of protests following the disputed election. Mr Brown told MPs the regime was attempting to blame Britain for the 'legitimate Iranian voices' calling for greater openness and democracy."

4:50 PM ET -- Solidarity. A fun video of Dutch youth spreading signs and art about Iran.

The caption posted with the video is, "Support the Iranian people in their desire for freedom and democracy! You can spread the voice of the Iranian people too. Download the poster at SupportDemocracyInIran.com and spread their slogan: WHERE IS MY VOTE?"


4:44 PM ET -- Iran activist released from Evin prison. On the website of his organization 'Stop Child Executions,' Mohammad Mostafaei posts a message titled, "Free after 7 days."

This afternoon after paying 1 billion Rials (about $100,000 USD) , being accused of conspiracy against the security of the government and propaganda against the regime, I was released from section 209 of the Evin prison (in Tehran)


I greatly am thankful to all of those who had a role in gaining my freedom.

My imprisonment made me more determined than ever to solidly stand for human rights

Remain strong and standing

Mohammad Mostafaei

4:30 PM ET -- Arrested, beaten and raped: an Iran protester's tale. The UK Guardian runs a disturbing piece:

Afshin, a shopkeeper from south-west Iran, alleges that one of his friends was beaten and repeatedly raped after being arrested at an opposition rally after last month's disputed election. He gave this account to Esfandiar Poorgiv, a journalist and academic. It is published here as part of the Guardian's project to trace those killed and detained during the unrest. The Guardian has been unable to independently verify the account.

1:54 PM ET -- L.A. Times sees shift in tactics by reformists.

... Now that it appears Ahmadinejad is on his way to being sworn in as president, they are trying to tarnish the government's reputation and credibility.

Observers said the reformist camp appeared to be trying to gather public momentum for a national strike or another day of mass protests in defiance of Khamenei, who the opposition says broke tradition and made himself fair game for political criticism by openly siding with Ahmadinejad.

"The supreme leader has confronted the emerging opposition and has lost his fatherly role for the nation," said one analyst, who spoke on condition he not be identified. "Thanks to the rigging of the election, for the first time in the past 30 years an opposition group from both the grass-roots and the educated and well-off walks of society has emerged and asserted itself."

The letter by the Islamic Participation Front, Iran's main reformist political alliance, blasted Ahmadinejad and his supporters as "the conductors of a coup against the republic with the worst and most violent methods."

1:47 PM ET -- Oil ministry official reportedly arrested. According to Jahan News (sent by a reader), a high-ranking Petroleum Ministry official was arrested in a "rioter cell house" on charges of attempting to instigate a strike in one of the refineries of Iran.

12:34 PM ET -- Mousavis' Facebook pages call for strike.

The Facebook pages of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard called for an Islamic National Strike late Tuesday night.

Mousavi's page updated first, about 7 p.m. local time, stating, "Strike: The manner of a man is better than his goverance. Help to bring this message back to IRAN." Three hours later the status updated to "Dont underestimate the power of National islamic Strike."

And early Wednesday, around 2 a.m. local time, both he and his wife's pages updated to "Islamic Strike, help to spread the Voice out to fight the Bullets." The message was posted twice in a row on both accounts.

12:01 PM ET -- 'My brother was only 18.' A journalist interviews the sister of an 18-year-old Iranian named Ashkan Sohrabi who was reportedly killed by the Basij on Saturday, June 20. One eerie exchange:

Rooz: Were you easily able to retrieve Ashkan's body from the hospital?

Sohrabi: It's better not to talk about that.

11:59 AM ET -- Blood or politics: What next for Iran? Fintan Dunne interviews Prof. Scott Lucas, who has been blogging on Iran here.

11:57 AM ET -- Iran releases 3 more British embassy officials. "Iran has released three more local employees of the British Embassy but is still holding one member for what has been described as playing a significant role in post-election violence."

11:52 AM ET -- Hangings reported in Iran. The Jerusalem Post is running a story today headlined, "6 Mousavi supporters reportedly hanged." State media in Iran have several reports of the hangings today, but officials say the executed prisoners had committed crimes unrelated to the election (some of the men were convicted of killing their wives). The Post says it has no confirmation that the executions were of Mousavi supporters, and until I see more evidence, I'm disinclined to believe their story.

11:50 AM ET -- Some Mousavi newspaper employees released. From the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Ayande News, a self-described independent news Web site, reported that 22 of the 25 jailed employees of Kalameh Sabz, the reformist newspaper owned by defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, were released on Monday. Alireza Hosseini Beheshti, manager of Kalameh Sabz, told the site that three editorial staffers remain behind bars. Over the weekend, authorities also released Life.com photographer Amir Sadeghi, who was arrested about a week earlier.

"We welcome the news of the release of the Kalameh Sabz staffers and Amir Sadeghi," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's program coordinator ‎for the Middle East and North Africa. "The Iranian authorities should now release the rest of Kalame Sabz's employees and the many other journalists who are being held."

11:43 AM ET -- Group urges people to contact Russian, Chinese, EU envoys. The National Iranian American Council today published this action alert:

We at NIAC have been asking ourselves everyday: What more can we do to stop the violence in Iran? We recognize that there just isn't a whole lot that the United States can do in this situation-our history with Iran and the absence of formal diplomatic relations makes it difficult for Americans to get involved in a productive fashion.

But that doesn't mean that other countries can just sit on the sidelines.

Russia, China, and many European countries all have close ties to Iran, either through commercial trade or political relations. They have a responsibility to use their influence with the government of Iran to stop the bloodshed.

We are asking people to send a letter to the Russian, Chinese, and EU delegations in Washington, telling them to leverage their relationships with Iran to ensure an end to the violence against the Iranian people.

Click here to send this letter - and forward it on to your friends, family, and anyone else concerned about the violence.

11:38 AM ET -- Basij want Mousavi arrested. The Guardian reports, "Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi today became the target of the notorious Basij militia as it called for him to be prosecuted for his role in the greatest political unrest in Iran since the Islamic revolution. In a letter to the country's chief prosecutor, the Basij accuse Mousavi of involvement in nine offences against the state, including 'disturbing the nation's security'. That charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence."

10:59 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad cancels Africa visit. "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has cancelled his trip to an African Union summit in Libya, officials in Tehran say. Mr Ahmadinejad's office did not give any reason for the decision. His visit would have been one of his first major public appearances abroad since his re-election in Iran's disputed poll last month."

10:34 AM ET -- Mousavi's new statement. Translated by the excellent National Iranian American Council:

Mir Hussein Mousavi issued a statement today in response to Guardian Council certifying the election results. Mousavi said the majority of the people including him do not recognize the legitimacy of the current government. He expressed his fears about a grave danger facing the country because people no longer trust the government. According to Mousavi, it is not too late to regain people's trust and reinstate the rule of the law. Denying the fact that people have lost their trust in the government is not beneficial, he said. He requested an end to the militarization of the society, revising the election laws, honoring the article 27 of the constitution (freedom of assembly), freedom of media, reactivating news websites, and a ban of illegal government intervention in restricting communication and monitoring people's activities among other things.

9:55 AM ET -- Human Rights Watch: Iran holding reformist in need of serious medical attention.

Harsh interrogation conditions and inadequate medical care are threatening the life of the detained prominent Iranian reformist Saeed Hajjarian, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch urged the Iranian authorities to immediately transfer Hajjarian, who has been severely disabled and ill since a 2000 assassination attempt, to a competent medical facility for the specialized care he needs, or to release him into the care of his family.

"It's bad enough that the authorities would detain a man as ill as Saeed Hajjarian in their crackdown in the protests," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "But the conditions, harsh treatment, and intense pressure to make a false confession are putting his life at risk."

Hajjarian, 55, was detained without charge on June 15, 2009, one of scores of prominent reformist politicians, intellectuals, journalists, clerics, student leaders, and others whom the authorities have arrested in a coordinated and continuing effort to stamp out nationwide protests against the disputed results of the June 12 elections in Iran. He requires constant medical care, and his wife, a physician, said after a visit that his condition is seriously deteriorating.

8:29 AM ET -- Iran seeking to prosecute doctor who tried to save Neda.

Fars News Agency in Persian on 1 July 2009 reports that the commander of the Law Enforcement Force said: Arash Hejazi who as the witness of the murder of Neda Aqa-Soltan has created uproar is being prosecuted by the International Police (Interpol).

Speaking to a gathering of reporters, General Esma'il Ahmadi-Moqaddam added: Arash Hejazi is being prosecuted by the Ministry of Intelligence and Interpol forces.

He stressed: The murder of Neda Aqa-Soltan is a scenario which has no links to Tehran's riots.

Arash Hejazi, the doctor who was present at Neda Aqa-Soltan's murder scene, has held certain sensational interviews with foreign media on this murder case after departing the country.

Hejazi fled to London shortly after Neda's murder. He conducted a lengthy interview with the BBC last week, acknowledging he would probably never be able to return to Iran.

Update: More on this topic from Iran's state-backed PressTV:

Iran's Police Chief says the mysterious death of Neda Aqa-Soltan, who became a symbol of post-election street rallies in Iran, was a 'prearranged scenario'. [...]

Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqadam, commander of the Iranian Police, said Wednesday that the unfortunate incident --which has been hyped and dramatized by Western media outlets--, was in fact a 'premeditated act of murder'.

The Iranian police chief said Arash Hejazi, a doctor who claims he tried to save Neda's life in her final moments, has fanned the flames of the western media hype.

Ahmadi-Moqadam said the Iranian Intelligence Ministry is making every effort to discover the whereabouts of Hejazi. "He has fled the country and is working against the Iranian government abroad."

8:27 AM ET -- Iran orders end to election activity. From state media: "Following the conclusion of a probe into the complaints into the 10th presidential elections in Iran, the Interior Ministry has ordered all election headquarters to end their activities. 'Any activities by the election headquarters in provinces, cities and districts will no longer have a legal basis,' warned the ministry."

8:16 AM ET -- Audio of Mousavi. Reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi spoke with 70 university professors last week (66 of whom were reportedly arrested after the meeting ended). Someone has posted the alleged audio of Mousavi's speech to them here.

8:05 AM ET -- Iran says 20 people killed post-election.

Twenty people were killed and more than 1,000 arrested in the protests that swept Tehran after the disputed re-election of President Ahmadinejad last month, the country's police chief said Wednesday.

"No policeman was killed in the Tehran riots but 20 rioters were killed," police chief Ahmadi Moghaddam was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

"Police arrested 1,032 people in the recent riots. Many have been released and the rest are being prosecuted in Tehran's public and revolutionary courts," he added.

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Useful Resources

Translations: TehranBroadcast.com | Translate4Iran
Helping Iranians use the web: Tor Project (English & Farsi)IranHelp.org (Farsi)
Demonstrations: Facebook | WhyWeProtest
Activism: Avaaz.org | National Iranian American Council