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Iran Report: July 7, 2003

7 July 2003, Volume 6, Number 28

COMMEMORATION OF 1999 UNREST COMES AT SENSITIVE TIME. The fourth anniversary of the day in July 1999 ("18 Tir" or 9 July) when Iranian security forces and vigilantes stormed the Tehran University campus will be marked this week. The authorities have rejected student groups' applications to hold a commemorative march, and they have closed the university campus to outside visitors. These measures indicate the authorities' concern over residual anger from the unrest of just a few weeks earlier and their awareness of the students' restiveness. Nevertheless, one should avoid the temptation to overstate the situation and its potential significance.

The unrest of June 2003 did not reach the level of that which occurred in July 1999. And the events of July 1999, November 2002, or June 2003 are not comparable in scale to those of June 1963 or September 1978, when millions of people filled the streets of Tehran and other cities.

The students' current activism attracts a lot of media attention, but there are only 1.2 million university students in Iran, out of a total population of some 66.6 million (CIA World Factbook estimate as of July 2002; according to the UN Population Division, the population in 2000 was 66.43 million; Nor are all students opposed to the regime. Some have withdrawn from political activism, some were not politically active to begin with, and others are members of the University Basij and are, in fact, supporters of the regime.

Those students who are politically active are not very united. The best-known student organization, the Office for Strengthening Unity, underwent a split in early-2002 because of a dispute regarding support for President Mohammad Khatami and the reformists. The majority wing, known as the "Neshast-i Allameh," wanted to withdraw from mainstream politics, whereas the minority wing, known as the "Neshast-i Shiraz," preferred to continue its support for the president (for more on this split, see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 14 October 2002).

Ahmad Alamshahi, who heads the minority wing's public relations office, said his group would not hold a gathering on 9 July, the Baztab website reported on 29 June. Reza Ameri-Nasab of the majority Allameh wing said that his group is determined to hold rallies on 9 July, the Baztab website reported on 24 June. Ameri-Nasab clarified this statement on 5 July, when he said that all 30 members of the Allameh wing's central council would stage a sit-in at the UN office in Tehran, Fars News Agency reported.

In another sign of disunity within the student movement, Allameh faction activist Said Razavi-Faqih wrote about the "new" Office for Fostering Democracy in a 1 July editorial in the "Yas-i No" daily from Tehran. He pointed out that when the Office for Strengthening Unity was created, its full name was the Office for Strengthening the Unity of the Seminary and University (Daftar-i Tahkim-i Vahdat-i Hozeh va Daneshgah). The situation is no longer about the pursuit of unity, Razavi-Faqih wrote, it is about democracy and governmental accountability. He wrote that the old organization is too centralized, too exclusive, and too dependent on the existing power structure, whereas the new one would be for all students and would have an "extranational and global approach." Yet Razavi-Faqih said that the Office for Fostering Democracy would continue to support the Office for Strengthening Unity.

Razavi-Faqih said in an interview that appeared in the 4 July issue of Milan's "Il Giornale" that there has been no response to his organization's request to commemorate the events of 9 July. Asked what they would do, he responded, "For the moment, we are waiting. I can only say that we are prepared to use all our energies."

Another student organization is Heshmatollah Tabarzadi's Democratic Front. A veteran activist, the 43-year-old Tabarzadi has been imprisoned many times. He announced that were would be massive crowds on the streets on 9 July, Germany's "Der Spiegel" reported on 23 June. Although the actual membership in his organization appears to be small, Tabarzadi's calls-to-arms are relayed throughout Iran by Los Angeles-based Persian-language satellite television stations.

The students' leaders are disunited in their attitude towards outside assistance, furthermore. Tabarzadi told "Der Spiegel," "we have not received any help from the United States, and we do not want it in future either." Tabarzadi added, "we regard the Americans, and also the U.S. government, as friends." "And support and recognition from friends is a source of pleasure," he said in what appears to be a hopeful manner.

Razavi-Faqih seemed even less open to outside help. Asked about President George W. Bush's supportive words and the possibility of help from the U.S., Razavi-Faqih told "Il Giornale," "I am interested in receiving support only from my people. Bush does not give a damn about us. His only interest is in expanding the power of the United States. This is why we do not accept and are not interested in the U.S.'s support." When the interviewer reminded Razavi-Faqih about the difficulty of acting without support, the activist said, "we cannot accept any foreign aid because we shall be accused of being the U.S.'s fifth column. And furthermore, in my opinion, the U.S. is seeking a pretext for intervening forcefully, as it did in Iraq."

The absence of cohesiveness among the students is just one factor limiting the scope of the unrest. Another is the regime's formal and informal repressive apparatus. Some 4,000 people were arrested in June and about half that number remained in jail as of 27 June. The possibility exists that some will be executed, and it is only a matter of time before the televised confessions that are a hallmark of Iranian justice begin.

The vigilantes from the Ansar-i Hizbullah, who act with impunity, can be let loose at any time to support the security forces. Indeed, the head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps's public relations office, Masud Jazayeri, said on 30 June, "Spontaneous gatherings of people are being organized to counter provocations staged by rioters," the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported. And if the vigilantes go too far the regime can deny having a formal relationship with them.

The government also employs something akin to the "bread and circuses" of ancient Rome to control dissent. Commodities such as cooking oil, meat, rice, and bread are available at subsidized prices, and gasoline prices are among the cheapest in the world. The country's unemployment rate is estimated to be over 20 percent, and hiring quotas for veterans' families and a privileged few serve to exacerbate the situation. Competitions serve as a distraction, with prizes for top students, awards for the best wives of disabled veterans, and Koran recital competitions, to name a few. Iran's national passion for soccer is no secret, but more esoteric sports, such as archery and karate, are regularly shown on television and reported on by newspapers.

Unrest and disturbances are very likely in Iran on 9 July. Nevertheless, the factors discussed here suggest that these events will not be as revolutionary as some would like and others would fear. What is of greater significance is that 44.3 million Iranians -- roughly two-thirds of the population -- are under the age of 30. This group did not participate in such formative experiences as life under the pro-U.S. monarchy, the activism of the 1978-1979 revolution, or the battles of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. As this segment of the population comes of age, it is likely to bring about significant and lasting -- but probably not revolutionary -- changes in the political system. (Bill Samii)

DISSIDENT CLERIC MEETS WITH ISFAHAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS. Former Isfahan Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Jalaledin Taheri denied -- in a message broadcast live on Isfahan Television -- that he encouraged people to take to the streets on 18 Tir (9 July, the day Iranian students commemorate the events that occurred four years earlier), according to a 3 July report in the conservative "Jomhuri-yi Islami" newspaper.

Taheri does not seem to oppose the students' activism, however. Taheri visited and spoke with members of Isfahan University's Islamic Association of Students on 29 June, ILNA reported on the same day. It was the eighth day of a sit-in and hunger strike by the students, who are protesting the recent arrests of other Iranian students.

Student leader Mohammad Sadeqi told ILNA that some of the striking students, especially the women, are physically unwell and have been transferred to the hospital. Sadeqi added that unidentified individuals threatened the striking students and the university's security staff is therefore protecting them. (Bill Samii)

PARLIAMENTARIANS' SIT-IN WINS CONCESSIONS... Four Iranian parliamentarians -- Meisam Saidi, Fatimeh Haqiqatju, Reza Yusefian, and Ali Akbar Musavi-Khoeni -- staged a sit-in on 28-29 June, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on 28 June and the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) the next day. On the first day of the sit-in, Tehran representative Saidi explained, "The aim of this [protest] session is to defend legal processes and in this way, we are intending to announce our protest to and worries about the way students are confronted," IRNA reported. The parliamentarians also criticized the police's failure to rein in vigilantes who attacked the students.

Shiraz representative Yusefian added that the legislators were taken aback by police chief Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf's accusation on 25 June that some parliamentarians instigated the demonstrations, according to IRNA. Yusefian asked that the police reveal the names of the accused parliamentarians and the evidence against them.

Tehran representative Fatimeh Haqiqatju said after the sit-in ended that they met with security and judicial personnel, who agreed to transfer all the detained students to the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), that their trials will be open and in the presence of defense lawyers, and that the parliamentarians will be allowed to visit the imprisoned students, IRNA reported on 29 June.

This last concession had been agreed to previously, and Isfahan representative Ahmad Shirzad said on 27 June that the prosecutor-general had agreed to allow a committee of parliamentarians to meet with the imprisoned students, ISNA reported. That meeting never took place. In addition, the MOIS was supposed to be holding the students, but it refused to take responsibility for them, Shirzad said. Shirzad's son is among those being detained.

Saidi wrote in an editorial that appeared in the 30 June issue of "Yas-i No" that the members of parliament are concerned about unauthorized people detaining demonstrators. The presence of vigilantes in plain-clothes (lebas shakhsi-ha) and the 14 June attack on the Allameh Tabatabai University dormitory are similar to what occurred in July 1999, according to Saidi. "What would relieve the mind of society, and especially of the university community, is the detention and treatment of agents called vigilantes, not the continuation of the detention of students or people who were not present in the incidents. (Bill Samii)

...AND OTHER PARLIAMENTARIANS VISIT DETAINEES. Two members of parliament, Mohsen Safai-Farahani and Mohammad Hassan Abu-Torabi, visited Evin Prison on 1 July and met with individuals detained during the June unrest, Fars News Agency reported the next day. They said that 601 people are in detention and 40 of them are students. The two deputies spent five hours with the detainees, who said that they were satisfied with the prison regime -- food, interrogations, and guards. Some detainees said that university officials provoked the unrest, and other detainees said that members of the legislature had provoked and even directed the rioting students, according to the Fars News Agency report.

Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hussein Elham said on 1 July that a total of 1,000 people were arrested during the unrest, IRNA reported on 2 July. Less than 100 students, 50 of them in Tehran, were arrested, he said. State Prosecutor General Abdul-Nabi Namazi had said earlier that 4,000 people were detained across the country (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 30 June 2003). (Bill Samii)

AGHAJARI'S PRISON SENTENCE REDUCED. Saleh Nikbakht, the attorney representing university professor and political activist Hashem Aghajari, said that his client's eight-year prison term has been reduced to three years and 11 months, "Iran" newspaper reported on 2 July. In August 2002, the Hamedan Public Court sentenced Aghajari to death, eight years in prison, and banned him from teaching for 10 years for giving what the court determined was a blasphemous speech in June 2002 (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 1 July and 11 November 2002). After serving time in Hamedan, he was transferred to Tehran (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 16 June 2003). He is confined at Evin Prison, and his attorney said he visited Aghajari on 1 July and that he is in "good physical shape." Although the prison sentence has been reduced, according to Nikbakht, the death sentence has not been changed because the preliminary court (in Hamedan) has not yet sent it to the Supreme Court. (Bill Samii)

HUNGER-STRIKING WIFE OF JAILED IRANIAN JOURNALIST HOSPITALIZED. Soheila Hamidnia, the wife of journalist Mohsen Sazgara, was hospitalized on 27 June, the "Hambastegi" daily newspaper reported on 28 June. An anonymous source said her hospitalization was the result of her hunger strike and the mental stress brought about by the jailing of her husband and her son, Vahid. Hamidnia had just visited the Prosecutor's Office at Evin Prison to inquire about her family members when she was told that she must report back to the prison in 48 hours, "Iran Daily" reported on 28 June. (Bill Samii)

IRANIANS CONTINUE TO COMMEMORATE ANTI-ISLAMIC HERO. Thousands of people gathered at the Babak Castle near the East Azerbaijan Province town of Kelidar in early July for the annual commemoration of Babak Khorramdin, one of the first popular Persian leaders to oppose the imposition of Islam and Arab rule. The Babak Khorramdin celebration has no official program and consists of people staying overnight around the Babak Castle, gathering in small groups for informal conversations or musical performances.

Payman Pakmehr, formerly a correspondent for the banned daily "Nasim-i Sabah" and the banned weekly "Ahrar-i Tabriz," told Radio Farda on 2 July that Azeri-speaking people were coming to the site in their own cars in an effort to beat the expected heavy traffic the next day. Pakmehr described the arrival of families with children, the building of bonfires, and the raising of tents. Pakmehr regretted that reporters from neighboring countries (such as Turkey and Azerbaijan) were not at the event, possibly because the police and security forces had not given them permission to attend it.

Within two hours of giving that interview, Pakmehr was attacked and abducted, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on 4 July. Four armed men beat Pakmehr and unsuccessfully tried to force him into a car, witnesses told RSF. He was taken to the hospital after losing consciousness, and his family has not been able to locate him.

The Iranian government has reacted uneasily in previous years to gatherings at the Babak Castle, probably because of what Babak Khorramdin symbolizes. Babak Khorramdin originally was known as Abdullah Babak. He and his followers promoted a purely Persian religion as an alternative to Islam. During a 20-year rebellion (816-837 AD) they killed many of the Abbasid Caliphate's (750-1258 AD) troops. In the early 1990s, an armed opposition organization called the Babak Khorramdin Organization (BKO) assassinated some Iranian officials.

In 2001, about 350,000 people participated in the seven-day event, but there were fewer participants at the 2002 commemoration (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 23 July 2002). Tabriz-based journalist Ensafali Hedayat said at the time that police restricted access to the site and the government ordered tourist agencies and bus companies not to take passengers to the event. (Hedayat disappeared after reporting on the June 2003 demonstrations; see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 23 June 2003). (Bill Samii)

IRANIAN-AZERI IRREDENTIST ARRIVES IN BAKU. Mahmudali Chehragani, an ethnic Azeri from Iran who heads the Southern Azerbaijan National Awareness Movement, arrived in Baku on 2 July, Interfax and Baku's ANS television reported the same day. He said that his movement's goals are limited but future generations might take the struggle farther. "We will unite Azerbaijan and live in a modern, developed state," he declared. Chehragani also called for regime change in Iran and warned that his movement would not remain indifferent if the regime sheds the blood of its members. Chehragani met with U.S. officials the previous month in an effort to promote his objectives (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 9 June 2003). Ezatollah Jalali, the Iranian deputy ambassador in Baku, dismissed Chehragani in an interview with ANS: "One cannot be great by speaking arrogantly. America's teat is sweet as long as it is in your mouth. God knows what will happen after that." (Bill Samii)

KHATAMI CALLS ON U.S. TO EASE UP. During a 2 July press conference President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami called for the U.S. to adopt a less aggressive tone towards Iran and suggested that the two sides would be able to communicate under such circumstances, state television reported. Khatami said, "America should change its ways; it should abandon its hostility and nit-picking, its needless pressures and interference...and it should stop adopting hostile stances against us, against our nation." "We are men of logic and rational dialogue," Khatami said, "But we do not accept force and pressure in any way." As long as Iran is being pressured its politicians are unable to act, Khatami said.

Khatami inaccurately accused U.S. President George W. Bush of interfering in the recent unrest in Iran. President Bush had said, in response to a reporter's question on 18 June, "I appreciate those courageous souls who speak out for freedom in Iran. They need to know America stands squarely by their side. And I would urge the Iranian administration to treat them with the utmost of respect" (

Secretary of State Colin Powell explained further on 22 June, "we encouraged the demonstrations, not as a way of fomenting trouble, but as a way to say that people should be free to speak out. People should be free to express their desires, to express their hopes, to express their concerns. That's what Iranian people are now doing and we encourage that, and that's our policy." Powell went on to say that the U.S. has no aggressive intentions towards Iran (

Powell went farther in a 2 July radio interview, describing Khatami as "freely elected" and adding, "The best thing we can do right now is not get in the middle of this family fight too deeply," Reuters reported. (Bill Samii)

IRAN MARKS 1988 DESTRUCTION OF PASSENGER AIRCRAFT. A special ceremony took place in the Persian Gulf on 3 July to mark the destruction in 1988 of an Iranian passenger aircraft by missiles fired from the USS Vincennes, state radio reported. The accident claimed the lives of 248 Iranian civilians. The U.S. agreed in February 1996 to compensate Iran up to $61.8 million for the deaths, and it earlier paid $3 million in compensation for the 47 non-Iranian passengers on the aircraft, according to a 25 April 2003 "Issue Brief for Congress" prepared by Ken Katzman of the Congressional Research Service. (Bill Samii)

IAEA CHIEF HEADING TO IRAN. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei is scheduled to visit Iran on 9 July, Reuters reported on 1 July. Khalil Musavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said el-Baradei will stay for one day but his accompanying delegation "might stay longer and might visit Iran's nuclear facilities." El-Baradei's February visit to Iran was cut short and some reports speculated that this was a reaction to Iran's surprising and alarming progress in nuclear activities (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 24 February 2003). IAEA personnel who visited Iran in June also left "abruptly," purportedly because they were not given access to a suspected nuclear site (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 16 June 2003). (Bill Samii)

TEHRAN UNDER PRESSURE TO SIGN NPT ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL. Iran is already a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but some observers believe that Iran has exploited loopholes in the treaty to give the appearance of compliance while in fact it is developing nuclear weapons capabilities. The Iranian government's foreign counterparts now are encouraging it to sign the Additional Protocol of the NPT, which would open the way for more thorough international inspections of all Iranian nuclear sites -- including surprise inspections and environmental sampling.

Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explained the concerns about Iranian activities in an interview with RFE/RL. "Many in the United States government are concerned at Iran's effectiveness at exploiting the opportunities that are provided to countries within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty so long as the countries declare what it is that they are doing. The concern has long been that what Iran will do is develop a robust nuclear capability that would allow it to quickly break out, as the phrase goes -- that is, to quickly develop nuclear weapons -- from the facilities that it has developed within the framework of the IAEA supervision."

The international community's concern about Iranian activities was demonstrated when British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw visited Tehran at the end of June. Straw said during a 29 July press conference that Iran should sign the Additional Protocol and thereby improve its international trustworthiness, IRNA reported.

Russia, too, is encouraging Iran to sign the Additional Protocol. In Moscow on 30 June, Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo told visiting Iranian Vice President for Atomic Energy Qolam Reza Aqazadeh-Khoi that cooperation with Iran in the nuclear field is very important for Russia, Interfax reported. "Moscow welcomes steps to increase transparency in the nuclear field, specifically through cooperation with the IAEA," Rushailo said. "Iran's timely signing of the Additional Protocol to the agreement on IAEA safeguards would serve this purpose and meet the interests of Iran, first of all."

On his last day in Moscow, 3 July, Aqazadeh expressed the belief that signing the Additional Protocol is "necessary," IRNA reported. Yet he seemed to hedge when he said that the arrangement with the IAEA should be "concrete, transparent, and reflected in the documents." This would seem to eliminate the possibility of surprise inspections, especially of undeclared nuclear sites. Aqazadeh also seems to think that Iran is being treated unfairly. "The IAEA has put forward excessively stringent requirements before us compared to other member-countries of this international structure. (Bill Samii)

TOKYO MAY BACK OUT OF OIL DEAL DUE TO NUCLEAR CONCERNS. Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yasuo Fukuda, told reporters on 1 July that Japan will not sign a contract with Iran for an oil-development project if Tehran fails to address international concern about its nuclear activities, Kyodo World Service reported. Fukuda encouraged Iran to deal with allegations about its nuclear program and said, "we are unlikely to sign a contract over crude oil that sets aside concerns related to Iran's nuclear program."

Negotiations over the Azadegan oilfield have been continuing for about two years, and the signing of the contract was expected to take place in July. The "Financial Times" reported on 28 June that "the U.S. is putting concerted pressure on" Tokyo to pull out of the deal, valued at about $2 billion.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on 2 July urged the Japanese consortium that includes Tomen Corporation, Inoex Corporation, and Japan Petroleum Exploration Company to examine the possibility of signing the contract with Iran from several angles, Jiji Press reported on 2 July. Koizumi said that important factors are nuclear nonproliferation, Japan's role in the international community, and domestic Iranian issues.

Japanese and American officials met at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on 2 July to discuss the issue, Tokyo's Nikkei Shimbun Telecom 21 online news service reported the next day. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage expressed the Bush administration's displeasure with the Japanese plan to develop Azadegan. Japanese Assistant Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shotaro Yachi, who met with Armitage and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, said, "Both the Japanese and the U.S. sides spoke their minds. I don't think the U.S. government has called for the suspension of Japanese participation in the Iranian oil field development project." (Bill Samii)

IRAN-INDIA GAS PIPELINE LOOKS DOUBTFUL. The daily "New Delhi Business Standard" reported on 2 July that the possible discovery of more natural gas reserves in the Krishna-Godavari basin in Andhra Pradesh and the deep waters of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal is threatening to overshadow the proposed natural gas pipeline from Iran to India. Citing anonymous "knowledgeable sources," the report said that even if India does import natural gas from Iran it is unlikely to invest in a pipeline, not least because supply and demand projections show that India's domestic natural gas supplies are sufficient to meet demand by 2006-2007, and if there are more discoveries India could have a surplus of gas. The pipeline project was a major part of President Mohammad Khatami's January visit to India, and India has since voiced skepticism about the security of a pipeline that would pass through Pakistan (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 27 January 2003 and 10 March 2003). (Bill Samii)

PISTACHIOS IMPORTANT TO IRANIAN ECONOMY. Sohrab Javadi, the deputy head of Iran's Agricultural Jihad Ministry, on 25 June said that pistachios constitute 55 percent of the country's horticultural exports and 45 percent of its agricultural exports, IRNA reported. Iran produces 145,000 tons of pistachios annually, Javadi said, and this accounts for 60 percent of global production. The pistachio is Iran's third-largest hard-currency earner after oil and carpets and is referred to by some as "green gold" (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 5 April 1999).

Javadi said the Agricultural Jihad Ministry and the Health, Treatment, and Medical Education Ministry have undertaken a joint project to reduce the level of aflatoxin, a highly carcinogenic, naturally occurring mold that is found in pistachios. In 1997, the European Union briefly banned imports of Iranian pistachios due to alleged aflatoxin contamination, a charge Iranian officials denied. (Bill Samii)

YEMENI PRESIDENT DISCUSSES IRANIAN AL-QAEDA EXTRADITIONS. Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Salih said that Iran has extradited approximately six Al-Qaeda members to Yemen, and Yemen currently has 80 of the terrorists in custody, according to an interview that appeared in the 29 June issue of London's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat." Other Yemeni Al-Qaeda members were returned via Oman and Saudi Arabia. Salih said that Al-Qaeda causes unease in all the regional states so nobody encourages them or harbors them. "These terrorists are ignorant extremists who pick and choose from Islam what suits their purposes and do not know anything about the principles of the religion," Salih said. (Bill Samii)

TEHRAN ACCUSES ISRAEL OF INVOLVEMENT IN BUENOS AIRES BOMBINGS. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi on 1 July expressed his dismay about Argentinian Minister of Foreign Relations, International Trade, and Worship Rafael Bielsa's linkage of Iran with the 18 June 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires of AMIA, the Jewish Community Center, IRNA and ISNA reported. Bielsa had said in a recent interview with the "Pagina" newspaper that Buenos Aires had requested the extradition of two Iranian citizens in connection with the AMIA bombing, but Iran refuses to fulfill the request, according to ISNA.

Assefi told the news agencies, "if the Argentinian judicial system carries out an impartial investigation to discover the truth, then it will understand that the Zionist regime had a hand in planning and carrying out both explosions in Buenos Aires [this is a reference to the AMIA bombing and the March 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy]." Assefi said that the Argentinian government should correct its anti-Iran statement. (For details on both bombings and the status of the investigation, see "RFE/RL Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch," 26 June 2003). (Bill Samii)

PARIS RELEASES MKO TERRORISTS ON BAIL. A Paris court on 3 July released on bail Maryam Rajavi, who served as joint leader of the Iranian opposition Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) in the late 1980s and was nominated as the "president-elect" for a future Iranian government in 1993 by an MKO front known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Reuters reported. The EU, like the United States, has designated the MKO as a terrorist group, and French security forces on 17 June raided MKO facilities in and around Paris and arrested some 165 MKO members (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 23 June 2003). Bail for Rajavi was set at 80,000 euros ($92,350), she must stay at the MKO base at Auvers-sur-Oise, and she cannot leave France. Bail also was set for eight other members of the MKO.

French police union leader Dominique Achispon said that the release of Rajavi and the other terrorists has brought about "great bitterness" among French intelligence investigators, AFP reported on 3 July, and they feel that their two-year investigation was wasted. Achispon said that the French intelligence agency had intended to conduct other investigations into MKO activities in the rest of Europe, but "now the release of the suspects will make the work a lot harder, it has messed everything up." (Bill Samii)