Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Washington, DC -- June 14, 2007) Radio Farda continued to follow developments concerning their correspondent Parnaz Azima, who has been trapped in Iran since January; spoke to U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte about the IAEA's latest findings on Iran's nuclear program; and reported on the Iranian government's violent harassment of imprisoned student leaders as well as the Iranian parliament's move to make the death penalty an option for punishing convicted pornographers.
>> In an exclusive interview on June 11 with Radio Farda, U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Gregory Schulte said the IAEA report on Iran's nuclear activities "documents two disturbing trends" -- that Iran's leadership is moving forward aggressively to develop a uranium-enrichment capability, and Iran's continued withdrawal from cooperation with the IAEA. Amb. Schulte said Iran must meet its international obligations, by cooperating with the IAEA to "answer troubling questions about their nuclear activities and suspending activities like enrichment of uranium as a confidence-building measure." Schulte said the goal of the U.S. is to achieve a diplomatic settlement and that the U.S. is not looking for a confrontation: "But the leaders in Iran need to demonstrate through their actions that they are prepared for serious negotiations" (http://tinyurl.com/2t479v).
>> On June 10, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, the lawyer representing Radio Farda journalist Parnaz Azima told Radio Farda that the interrogator handling Azima's case told him she will face a court trial, on the charge of "propaganda against the Islamic Republic regime." Aghasi said the Intelligence Ministry refused to allow Azima's passport to be returned to her. The scope of decisions being taken in the Azima case exceeds standard practice, Aghasi told Radio Farda. If this was an ordinary case of "propaganda against the regime", he said, the normal course of events would lead to a verdict by the Lower Court after 3 or 4 months; were an appeal to be filed in the event of an unsatisfactory verdict, that appeal would be resolved in several months. Aghasi told Radio Farda he believes the Intelligence Ministry and the Judiciary intend to keep Azima in Iran for the time being, as opposed to prosecuting, convicting and punishing her (http://tinyurl.com/3d5bpp).
>> Radio Farda reported on June 9 that several of the eight students at Tehran's Amir Kabir University who have been arrested in the past month over the alleged publication of offensive materials in student journals are in grave condition, according to student activists. In an interview with Radio Farda, Ali Nikunesbati, a member of the Central Council of the Office to Consolidate Unity said student activists are very worried about the physical condition of Abbas Hakimzadeh, whose surgically-repaired spine has been damaged by beatings inflicted by university security forces. The shoulder of another student, Ehsan Mansouri was broken as a result of harassment in prison, Nikunesbati said. Nikunesbati told Radio Farda that he believes the arrests are a reaction to student heckling of President Ahmadinejad during a speech he gave at the university in December 2006 (http://tinyurl.com/2vrudb).
>> Radio Farda reported on June 13 that the Iranian Parliament had passed legislation calling for "persons convicted of working in the production of pornographic movies" to be sentenced to death on the charge of being "corruptors on earth" -- a crime carrying the death penalty under Iranian Islamic law. Producers, directors, cameramen and leading actors involved in the making of such films are to be considered "corruptors on earth" and thus eligible for the death penalty. According to the legislation, those engaged in the "reproduction and distribution" of such movies are to be sentenced to one to five years in prison, the deprivation of social rights for seven to ten years, a monetary fine and confiscation of their equipment. If, however, they are found in possession of more than 10 copies of a movie, they are to be considered "elements of distribution and reproduction" and eligible for execution as "corruptors on earth" (http://tinyurl.com/2r7a3y).
For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit:
http://www.radiofarda.com -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website
http://www.rferl.org/reviews/farda.aspx -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review
http://www.rferl.org/reports/iran-report/default.asp -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/iran.html -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran
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