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Heard This Week - 07/05/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- July 5, 2007) Radio Farda covered the arrest in Tehran of Kurdish journalist and human rights activist Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand, the banning (again) of the newspaper "Hammihan" and sudden resignation of the director of the non-governmental Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), the potential for new sanctions over Iran's nuclear enrichment program and the twists and turns of the review at the Iranian Supreme Court of the suspicious death in custody in 2003 of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.

>> Radio Farda broadcast several interviews on July 4 about the outlook for the adoption of expanded sanctions against Iran. Hooshang Hassan Yari of the Royal Military College of Canada told Radio Farda that a new round of sanctions would likely focus on banning imports of goods and technologies to Iran. London-based international affairs analyst Mehrdad Khansari noted China's rejection of further sanctions against Iran. Khansari said China's major objective is economic development and prosperity, but not at the cost of sacrificing its relations with the US over Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Energy expert Parviz Mina told Radio Farda that more than 40 percent of the natural gas used in Iran is imported; if those imports are blocked, transportation in Iran will be paralyzed and consumer prices will skyrocket (

>> On July 3, Massoud Heidari, the director of the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), announced his resignation. The next day, July 4, ILNA was not allowed to publish reports. In a July 4 interview for Radio Farda's "Evening Magazine", journalist Isa Saharkhiz discussed the pressures exerted on ILNA, noting that ILNA tried to serve as an independent news agency and cover social issues, including human rights. Naturally, Saharkhiz said, the agency was most involved in covering the labor movement as it was supported by workers unions. Saharkhiz also said that four senior officials -- including Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hossein Safar-Harandi, Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, Interior Minister Mostafa Pur-Mohammadi and Tehran Chief Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi -- who ordered the shutdown on July 4 of the reformist daily "Hammihan" (Compatriot; see next item) -- have in recent months been assigned to control the press (

>> The daily "Hammihan" (Compatriot) was banned on July 4, just 42 days after resuming publication following a 2000 closure order, according to manager Gholamhossein Karbaschi. In this regard, Radio Farda's "Evening Magazine" aired an interview with Mohammad Atrianfar, the chair of Hammihan's editorial board. Atrianfar called the reason for closing the paper "unprecedented" and said it lacks legal justification. He also said "the fate of the press is decided beyond the government" (

>> Radio Farda, citing Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA), reported the July 1 arrest in Tehran of Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand, head of Kurdistan's Defense of Human Rights Organization Intelligence Ministry agents. Kurdistan's Court of Appeals sentenced Kabudvand in 2006 to one year of discretionary imprisonment. He was also banned from continuing as editor of the weekly newspaper "Payam Mardom" (People's Message) for five years and the weekly's license was revoked. The Kurdistan Defense of Human Rights Organization considers Kabudvand's arrest the opening move in a larger clampdown on human rights activists in Kurdistan (

>> On July 1, the 15th branch of Iran's Supreme Court reviewed the death in custody of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. In an interview with Radio Farda, lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said the prosecutor undermined the case, changing the charges being reviewed from premeditated murder to involuntary manslaughter -- raising the potential of a less severe punishment if convicted as well as the possibility of acquittal for the defendants. According to the Radio Farda report, international rights bodies and Kazemi's son, Stephane Hashemi, suspect Tehran Chief Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi of involvement in Kazemi's violent interrogation, which led to her death in 2003 (

For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit: -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran

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