Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Washington, DC -- June 7, 2007) Radio Farda continued its coverage of the Iranian Americans trapped in Iran, featuring a telephone interview with correspondent Parnaz Azima, who has been unable to leave Iran since January; broadcast interviews with Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi and American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin; covered Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latest threats against Israel and worldwide reaction to those threats; and learned more about the precarious medical condition of jailed journalist Ali Farahbakhsh.
>> Radio Farda, citing the Iran Students News Agency, reported on June 6 that Tehran deputy prosecutor for security affairs Hassan Haddad announced that Iranian American scholars Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh "have admitted carrying out activities, but they say their intention was to help Iran." He also said that Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima has been charged with "working for the counterrevolutionary Radio Farda and other counterrevolutionary radios." Azima's case, according to Haddad, is ready to be sent to the court.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Azima said "the judge in charge of my case decided that I would be allowed to remain free on a very heavy and unprecedented bail of about 500 million tooman [approximately $550,000]." She also pointed out that the resolution of her case is delayed, pending a response from the Intelligence Ministry: "It is possible they will decide to return my passport and since I'm an optimistic person I think it is very likely, but it could be quite the opposite -- so I'm waiting and I've been in this state for five months now (http://tinyurl.com/3bxzrn)."
>> Also on June 6, Radio Farda aired an exclusive interview with Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran's last Shah, who visited Prague to participate in the June 5-6 "Democracy and Security" conference hosted by the Czech Foreign Ministry. Noting that Iran had experienced two political revolutions in the past century, Pahlavi emphasized "that Iranians can -- and have, when their will is up to it -- change their systems," calling the establishment of a civil society a foundation for such a change. Furthermore, Pahlavi stressed the need to replace the "current religious dictatorship" with a parliamentarian democracy, whose constitution is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is secular in the sense that religion is completely separated from the state. As for the legitimacy of Iran's next regime, Pahlavi said if the overwhelming majority of people are opposed to the current regime and if the world helps and supports them, then the next regime will be legitimate. Rejecting the option of a military strike, Pahlavi stated that, instead of dealing with the Islamic Republic regime, the world should invest in the Iranian people (http://tinyurl.com/ywvjn8).
>> Radio Farda aired an interview on June 5 with American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Michael Rubin, who said that while many Iranians have criticized U.S. financial support for Persian-language media and civil society activists, there also are subtle differences between those who call themselves reformers and support the "velayat-e faqih" (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist) and those dissidents who work outside Iran's ruling system. Concerning the recent arrests of Iranian-Americans, Rubin told Radio Farda that, as with the hostage-taking in 1979, this "hostage taking by Iran" is also related to domestic politics in the country. Further, Rubin called on the Iranian government to tell Iranians how much it has spent on its nuclear facilities so far: "The Iranians have already said that they don't think the sanctions are working out" (http://tinyurl.com/2wfe7c).
>> Radio Farda reported that on June 3, while speaking at a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stressed the need to destroy Israel, saying "the countdown to the destruction of the Zionist regime has begun." (http://tinyurl.com/3xmz6y)
On June 4, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's responded to Ahmadinejad's remarks, saying the Iranian leader was "digging a deeper and deeper hole for his country." On June 5, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos called Ahmadinejad's comments unacceptable, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the comments were "incompatible" with Tehran's wish to play a major role in the region. Radio Farda compiled all of these comments into a report posted to its website on June 5 (http://tinyurl.com/3yzo22).
>> Radio Farda reported on June 1 that journalist Ali Farahbakhsh, who was arrested last November on charges of "espionage" and "receiving money from foreigners" after returning from a conference in Thailand, is seriously ill in prison. Radio Farda aired an interview with his mother, Badri Farahbakhsh in which she said her son suffers from stomach and kidney problems and is being refused proper treatment. According to Mrs. Farahbakhsh, "His case has been at the appeals court for a long time and no decision has been made yet" (http://tinyurl.com/3as39t).
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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