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Heard This Week - 08/02/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- August 2, 2007) Radio Farda covered the ongoing crackdown against civil society activists and independent media, reporting on the sentences handed down against activist Emadedin Baghi and his family and two Kurdish journalists; examined the IAEA's visit to the Arak heavy water facility; and provided analysis of the U.S. offer of military aid to allies in the Middle East.

>> The 6th branch of Tehran's Revolutionary Court on July 31 gave Emadedin Baghi, the head of the Tehran-based Association for Defending Prisoners' Rights, a three-year suspended prison sentence after being convicted of "conspiring to commit crimes against national security" and "spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic to foreign and opposition groups," Radio Farda reported, citing Iran media. Baghi's lawyer, Mahmoud Alam explained to Radio Farda that the charges his client faced were related to interviews he gave to media outlets, including several on the topics of political prisoners and executions. Baghi's wife and daughter were also given suspended jail sentences, on charges related to their trip to the United Arab Emirates to participate in a human rights conference (

>> On July 31, Iran's Judiciary confirmed that Kurdish journalists Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed Boutimar have been sentenced to death by hanging after being found to be "enemies of God," in the wake of Hassanpour's conviction on charges of "activities subverting national security" and "spying" and Boutimar's conviction on unknown charges, Radio Farda reported. Hassanpour's sister told Radio Farda that the families have no information about the whereabouts of Hassanpour and Boutimar. "A few days ago, my mother went to Sanandaj. She searched all the prisons of the Information Ministry and the courts, both in Marivan and in Sanandaj, but they told her [Adnan and Boutimar] were not with them," she said (
On July 23, Reporters Without Borders issued a statement voicing its deep concern over death sentences against Adnan Hassanpour and Hiwa Boutimar, calling it "outrageous and shameful." In an interview with Radio Farda on July 24, Reporters Without Borders spokesman Reza Moini said that writing and criticism cannot be considered to be "enmity with God," even from the point of view of Iran's Constitution, which is in contradiction with international humanitarian law (

>> A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on July 30 visited Iran's heavy-water nuclear reactor site in Arak, which is currently under construction. In this regard, Radio Farda interviewed former U.S. National Security Council official Gary Samore, who said Iran has not offered to delay construction of the Arak facility, but is giving the IAEA an opportunity to visit the facility before it is ready for a formal international inspections. According to Samore, the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz is the site that poses an immediate concern, not the Arak facility. Samore told Radio Farda, "The western strategy is designed to impact the domestic power struggle within Iran between different factions of the government," adding that the U.S., UK and France believe "the opponents of President Ahmadinejad will have a stronger basis for arguing that Iran should avoid a confrontation if the UN Security Council imposes sanctions that will add to Iran's economic difficulties." Samore called Iran's indicated desire to pursue an enrichment capability subject to additional political and technical constrains an unacceptable compromise for western powers, because Iran could possibly use the enrichment capabilities for military purposes (

>> Radio Farda broadcast interviews on July 30 with analysts and journalists on the proposed U.S. sale of weapons and offer of military assistance to Arab allies and to Israel. Journalist Adel Darvish said Saudi Arabia is an important country, geographically speaking, so if one wants to defend countries such as Qatar or Kuwait against Iran, the best place to do so is Saudi Arabia. Middle East analyst Hassan Hashemian, on the other hand, told Radio Farda Saudi Arabia's military structure will not be reformed by military assistance. Instead of buying weapons, Hashemian said, Saudi Arabia needs a new kind of organizational structure in its army. Hashemian also believes that, considering Iran's military exercises in the Persian Gulf and its increase of military capabilities, Arab countries have gradually come to the conclusion that they must buy weapons from the US to achieve a balance of power with Iran (

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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