Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran

Biden Upbeat About Prospects For Iran Deal After Meeting With Lawmakers

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said he was optimistic the Iran nuclear deal willl survive congressional review after meeting privately with Democrats in the House of Represenatives on July 15.

"I think we'll be all right," Biden said, despite opposition to the pact from most Republicans, who hold the majority in both houses.

The White House needs only one-third of the votes in Congress to sustain a veto promised by President Barack Obama, should Republicans send him a resolution disapproving the deal during a 60-day congressional review period.

That scenario seems increasingly likely, as Republicans are already campaigning against the deal, which was reached on July 14 by Iran and six world powers in Vienna.

Democrats warmed to the plan after Biden explained it and assured them that nothing in the pact would preclude the use of force if Tehran violated planned curbs on its nuclear activities.

"I am proud of the president on this issue...I lean to a 'yes' right now," Representative Bill Pascrell (Democrat-New Jersey) said afterward.

Biden is scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats on July 16.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

More News

Self-Exiled Brother Of Senior Iranian Official Says Only 'Regime's Overthrow' Will Bring Justice

Meghdad Jebeli is a younger brother of the head of Iranian state TV, Peyman Jebeli.

In early 2020, lawyer Meghdad Jebelli took the drastic decision to leave Iran and seek asylum in the West.

Jebelli, whose elder brother is a key figure in the clerical regime, left his homeland just weeks after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane over the capital, Tehran.

All 176 people on board, mostly Iranians and Canadians, were killed after the Kyiv-bound plane was hit by surface-to-air missiles on January 8, 2020. Among them was Jebelli’s nephew, a 29-year-old medical student.

After three days of denials and amid growing international pressure, the IRGC admitted to shooting down the plane “unintentionally” after misidentifying it as a threat amid heightened tensions with the United States. Tehran's delayed claim of responsibility for the shootdown sparked angry protests in Iran and increased distrust in the clerical regime.

The incident did not affect the loyalty of Jebelli’s eldest brother, Peyman Jebelli, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the state-run entity that runs all radio and TV broadcasting in the Islamic republic.

But for 39-year-old Meghdad Jebelli and his 43-year-old brother, Meisam, the tragedy was a turning point. The two siblings soon went into self-imposed exile in Canada.

The brothers have become critics of Iran’s clerical establishment and members of the Canada-based Association of Victims’ Families of Flight PS752 that is seeking justice for the victims of the tragedy.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, Jebelli said cracks within his family emerged soon after he expressed his suspicions over the authorities’ initial denial.

“Within the first couple of days, due to the videos that emerged, it was evident to us that the plane had been hit. We said it. I remember we had fights and arguments [with my family members] during those days,” he said.

“They reacted harshly and said that we were being fooled by the [foreign] media,” he said, adding that his relatives took “the position of the establishment.”

'Tense Atmosphere'

In response, Jebelli accused his family members of “ignoring” what he described as the “murder” of his nephew.

“They [said] it’s a war after all and it is possible that someone gets [killed]. With such justifications, they were ignoring the murder of their own child,” he said.

Days before the tragedy, a U.S. drone strike had killed IRGC commander General Qasem Soleimani in neighboring Iraq. Hours before the Ukrainian plane was shot down, Iran had launched missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq to avenge Soleimani’s killing, and Tehran's air defenses were on high-alert in case of a U.S. retaliation, which never came.

Iranian officials later said several people had been detained and charged over the "disastrous mistake." No senior officials were dismissed and none resigned over the incident.

Jebelli said he "couldn't take it any longer" and decided to leave his homeland.

“I was married, and my life was separate [from my family]. Meisam used to sleep [at my parent’s home] at night but he changed his place of residence,” he said, adding that they left the country weeks later.

Even before the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane, Jebelli said he had clashed with members of his family over their political differences. He said he participated in the mass street protests following the 2009 disputed presidential election despite opposition from his family.

“My mother found out about it, and it led to a tense atmosphere at home,” he recalled.

'Do Not Think You Are Safe'

Jebelli said he has returned twice to Iran since moving to Canada. During his second trip, he said, he was threatened over the phone by an individual who introduced himself as a friend of his brother, Peyman Jebelli.

He said the individual questioned him about his life in Canada and his visits to Iran.

“At the end, he said very seriously, ‘I am now telling you in a friendly way, watch your behavior, watch what you are doing. Do not think that you are safe [because] you are not in Iran,’” he said.

Jebelli said the individual reminded him of the fate of Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam, the manager of the popular opposition Telegram channel Amad news who was executed by Iran in 2020 after being convicted of "corruption on Earth," a charge often leveled in cases involving espionage or attempts to overthrow the regime.

Zam had been living and working in exile in France before being arrested in 2019 under still unclear circumstances. According to media reports, the dissident was allegedly lured to Iraq by Iranian agents.

Jebelli said the phone call removed any doubts he had about his decision to move to Canada. “I became assured that I didn’t belong in Iran anymore,” he said.

Jebelli said he and his younger brother, Meisam, are not just seeking justice for those killed in the 2020 downing of the Ukrainian plane.

“I have always said that real justice will only be achieved when the perpetrators of the crimes of the past 44 years are punished," he said, referring to the clerics who came to power following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. “This can only happen with the overthrow of the Islamic regime.”

Peyman Jebelli has downplayed his brothers’ decision to leave Iran.

“Similar incidents have happened in the past,” he was quoted as saying by Iranian media. His comments came soon after TIME magazine interviewed Meisam Jebelli, who accused his elder sibling of being “in charge of the regime’s biggest propaganda machine” and lying “to my face.”

Peyman Jebelli (file photo)
Peyman Jebelli (file photo)

“I saw his comments,” Peyman Jebelli said. “I’m not sure to what extent it was of his own free will, but these incidents are not new.”

Peyman Jebelli was directly appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is accountable to nobody but him. IRIB has come under criticism from rights activists and dissidents and has been accused of airing forced confessions and carrying political and religious propaganda.

Meghdad Jebelli said many Iranian families have become divided as more people turn against the regime.

Iran has been rocked by nationwide antiestablishment protests since the death of a woman soon after she was arrested by Iran’s morality police. The ongoing demonstrations are the biggest threat to the regime in years.

“In many families, children and young people participate in protests while telling their parents that they’re going to a party,” Jebelli said.

Written by Golnaz Esfandiari based on an interview conducted by Babak Ghafooriazar.

Death Sentence Protest Turns Violent Outside Iranian Prison As Security Agents Disperse Crowd

An undated photo of the Ghezel Hesar prison near the capital, Tehran

A gathering of the families of drug-related prisoners sentenced to death in Iran has turned violent as law enforcement and security officers tried to break up the demonstration in front of the Ghezel Hesar prison near the capital, Tehran.

The U.S.-based activist group HRANA reported that the families, holding placards with the slogan "No To Execution," demanded a reduction in the punishment of those accused of drug crimes and a halt to the carrying out of their death sentences. Many protest rallies have been held in Iran in recent years, but one opposing the death sentence is a rare act of defiance.

In videos of the January 25 protests posted on social media police officers can be seen dispersing the demonstrators, who identified themselves as relatives of those on death row, arresting some of them.

There were no details on whether anyone was injured or how many people were detained.

Iran has seen a sharp rise in the number of executions since September 2021 after Ebrahim Raisi, a former head of the judiciary, became president and former Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei took over the judiciary.

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights Organization says the number of executions in Iran exceeded 500 last year, and officials have been pushing for harsh penalties, including the death sentence, for protesters at the center of unrest sweeping the country over the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for an alleged violation of the country's head scarf law.

On January 10, UN human rights chief Volker Turk accused Tehran of "weaponizing" the death penalty to quell dissent amid months of unrest over the death of Amini.

Four convicted protesters have already been executed, and others remain on death row after being handed death sentences.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

France Demands Release Of Citizen In Iran As Health Worsens

Diplomats said Bernard Phelan, 64, a tourism consultant, recently ended a hunger strike that had hit his health, but he remains fragile.

France's Foreign Ministry demanded on January 26 the immediate release of Bernard Phelan, a Franco-Irish citizen detained in Iran whose health situation has worsened, with Paris saying he has been denied urgent medical care. Ties between France and Iran have deteriorated in recent months with Tehran detaining seven of its nationals in what Paris has said are arbitrary arrests that are equivalent to state hostage taking. Diplomats said Phelan, 64, a tourism consultant, recently ended a hunger strike that had hit his health, but he remains fragile. To read the original Reuters story, click here.

Imprisoned Iranian Activist Sadeghi, Who Is Ill With Cancer, Sentenced Again

Arash Sadeghi (left) and his wife, Golrokh Iraei

Iranian political activist Arash Sadeghi, who is already in prison serving a 19-year sentence despite being diagnosed with cancer, has been handed another sentence of more than five years for his participation in protests over the death of a young woman in police custody.

Ramin Safarnia, Sadeghi's lawyer, said on Twitter on January 25 that his client was also banned from living in Tehran and the northern Iranian provinces, and cannot carry out activities via the Internet for two years after being found guilty of "gathering and collusion against national security" and "propaganda activity against the Islamic republic."

Safarnia added that Sadeghi cannot be a member of any political or social party or group, and that all of his personal belongings will be confiscated "for the benefit of the government."

Sadeghi, who has been imprisoned several times and was diagnosed with cancer during his previous incarceration, was released from prison a year and a half ago after enduring more than five years behind bars on two separate terms totaling 19 years that were handed down in 2013 on charges of propaganda against the government, defamation of the supreme leader, and threatening national security.

A political activist while a student at Allameh Tabatabaei University in Tehran, he has gone on hunger strike several times, including in 2016 to protest the arrest of his wife, who was detained on a charge of writing fiction that had not yet been published.

Sadeghi was released in 2021 before being arrested again in October during protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was being detained by morality police for allegedly improperly wearing her hijab.

Anger over Amini's death on September 16 has prompted thousands of Iranians to take to the streets nationwide to demand more freedoms and women's rights.

The widespread unrest represents the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

The activist HRANA news agency said that as of January 15 at least 522 people had been killed during the unrest, including 70 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

Many high-profile activists, rights advocates, and intellectuals have also been arrested in recent months because of the protests, including Fatemeh Sepehri and Majid Tavakoli.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iran Sanctions Europeans In Tit-For-Tat Move; Protests Continue

Iranians are continuing to protest across despite the harsh reaction by authorities.

Iran has announced tit-for-tat sanctions against more than 30 European individuals and entities in response to a similar move by the European Union over Tehran's deadly crackdown on protesters who continue to take to the streets in anger over the death of a young woman while in police custody for an alleged dress-code violation.

Those hit by the Iranian sanctions on January 25 include Britain's attorney general and army chief of staff, along with several European parliamentarians and European military officials.

Three staff members from the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo were also on the list. Last month, the controversial weekly published dozens of cartoons mocking Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest religious and political authority in Iran.

Two days earlier, EU ministers agreed on a new package of sanctions against Iran, targeting those driving the "brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters."

Despite the harsh reaction by authorities, Iranians continue to protest with videos published on social media showing them taking to windows and rooftops to show their anger at the government. Many chanted slogans against the country's leaders amid an outcry that erupted in mid-September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was being held by police for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly.

The unrest, which has spread across the country, is proving to be one of the biggest threats to Iran's leadership since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Protesters in Tehran's Ekbatan neighborhood showed how deep their hatred of the government's intrusion on their freedoms is bychanting the slogan “death to the dictator,” a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Similar chants could be heard in Narmak, a neighborhood in the east of the capital.

Meanwhile, the Telegram channel of the country's students' union councils published pictures of a rally held at Tehran University's Fine Arts Campus, where students protested rulings against them from the disciplinary committee because of their demonstrations.


In recent months, the Tehran University of Arts has been a center of creative performances in support of protests in Iran. Among them, a performance of symbolic tombstones in the university campus in memory of the protesters killed by the security forces, which has gone viral on social media.

The government's brutal crackdown on the demonstrators has seen thousands arrested, including journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others voicing opposition to the government.

Lawmakers have demanded an even sharper reaction, calling for heavy penalties, including death sentences, for protesters.

Four public executions have already taken place, according to authorities, and rights groups say many others have been handed death sentences, while at least two dozen others face charges that could carry the death penalty.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iranian Film Producer Summoned By Police Over Banned Movie

Javad Norouzbeigi produced the film Leila’s Brothers, which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year. (file photo)

Iranian film producer Javad Norouzbeigi says a legal case has been filed against him due to the production of his banned prizewinning film, Leila’s Brothers.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Javad Norouzbeigi as saying that he was summoned to the prosecutor's office, "where the title of the accusation against me was the production of Leila’s Brothers."

Before its release last summer, Iran's Cinema Organization of the Ministry of Islamic Guidance banned the film due to the "producer and director violating and disobeying regulations."

The ban came after the critically acclaimed film won the FIPRESCI Prize from international critics at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in May. It was also nominated for the Palme d'Or award.

While accepting the FIPRESCI award, director Saeed Roustayi said it was in honor of the grieving people of Abadan after the deadly collapse of a tower building in the southwestern Iranian city killed 43 people. The collapse of the partially finished 10-story Metropol building sparked angry protests in solidarity with the families of the dead.

Roustayi's speech angered authorities who quickly moved to prevent the film from screening in Iran.

Since then, government officials have kept up the pressure on filmmakers amid a renewed crackdown on dissent over the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for an alleged clothing violation in September.

Several Iranian cinematographers and prominent public figures have been summoned by the police or arrested, including actress Katayoun Riahi and director Hamid Pourazari. Other celebrities, including actor Hamid Farrokhnejad, have been interrogated and have had their passports confiscated after showing support for the protests.

The unrest over the 22-year-old's death has put women's rights -- and a lack of freedoms in general -- in the Islamic republic in the spotlight. Daily protests and symbolic gestures across the country have demonstrated the built-up anger that many Iranians feel toward the system of rule and pose one of the biggest threats to authorities since the revolution in 1979.

Officials, who have blamed the West for the demonstrations, have vowed to crack down even harder on protesters, with the judiciary leading the way after the unrest entered a fourth month.

Actor Hossein Mohammadi, 26, faces a death sentence after he was reportedly tortured into making a confession to security forces who were looking to pin the blame on him and 15 others for the death of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during a demonstration.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

The Farda Briefing: Europe's Position On Iran Hardens As It Mulls Terror Listing

IRAN -- Members of a special IRGC force attend a rally marking the annual Quds Day on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran on April 29, 2022.

Welcome back to The Farda Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that tracks the key issues in Iran and explains why they matter. To subscribe, click here.

I'm Hannah Kaviani, a senior broadcaster and editor at RFE/RL's Radio Farda. Here's what I've been following and what I'm watching out for in the days ahead.

The Big Issue

The European Parliament on January 19 voted for Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to be added to the European Union's list of terrorist organizations in "light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters, and its supplying of drones to Russia."

The vote was nonbinding, but it came amid calls by some European governments to blacklist the elite branch of Iran's armed forces. The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said that would only happen if a court in an EU nation determined that the IRGC was guilty of terrorism.

Since the vote, the EU has imposed fresh sanctions against Tehran. Iran has expressed outrage at the possibility of the EU blacklisting the IRGC, which would lead to sanctions against the force. Tehran has warned of unspecified "consequences."

Why It Matters: The EU's potential blacklisting of the IRGC has exposed the bloc's hardening position on Iran.

European powers have long pursued engagement with Iran, even as tensions between Tehran and the United States soared in recent years. But Europe's approach has shifted due to the war in Ukraine and unrest in Iran.

Tehran has been accused of supplying combat drones to Russia, which has allegedly used them to target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

Iranian authorities have also waged a brutal crackdown on the monthslong anti-establishment protests inside the country, killing hundreds of civilians and detaining thousands more. As Iran's ties with Europe dip, hopes of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers have sunk.

What's Next: Even as calls for the EU to blacklist the IRGC increase, the bloc is far from united on the issue. Two European diplomats who spoke to Radio Farda on the condition of anonymity said France was "not very keen" on the move.

While Germany's foreign minister has supported it, the mood in Berlin appears to be uncertain. According to one diplomat, some Southern European countries such as Portugal and Malta are also opposed to the IRGC being designated.

A senior EU diplomat told reporters in Brussels on January 20 that blacklisting the IRGC "is not a good idea because it prevents you from going ahead on other issues," including Iran's nuclear program. Another diplomat who spoke to Radio Farda said the EU's decision to blacklist the IRGC will "depend on how Iran will act over Russia."

Stories You Might Have Missed

  • A 39-year-old Iranian poultry worker and martial arts coach who was executed by Iran earlier this month in connection with the antiestablishment protests has become a symbol of state oppression, with many Iranians grieving his death in absence of his family. Mohammad Hosseini was convicted of killing a member of Iran's paramilitary forces as mourners demonstrated in a city outside the Iranian capital in November. Hosseini was hanged on January 7 along with 22-year-old Mohammad Mehdi Karimi.
  • Iranian officials held a controversial six-day conference that began on January 20 called the International Congress for Women of Influence. The conference was hosted by Jamileh Alamolhoda, the wife of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. The event was attended by the first ladies and politicians from a number of friendly countries including Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Serbia, and Nigeria. Some Iranian media outlets criticized the extravagance of the event as well as its timing, coinciding with the nationwide protests that have largely been led by women.

What We're Watching

Iran's national currency has lost around 30 percent of its value since the protests erupted in September. On January 21, the rial fell to a new record low against the U.S. dollar. The dollar was selling for as much as 447,000 rials on Iran's unofficial market, according to the foreign exchange site Bonbast.com.

Why It Matters: Political instability triggered by the current wave of protests has worsened the economic situation in Iran, where the economy has been crippled for years by tough U.S. sanctions and government mismanagement.

Reports suggest that U.S. efforts to curb the flow of dollars to Iran have borne fruit and exacerbated the currency crisis. The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has enforced tighter controls on dollar transactions by banks in neighboring Iraq, one of Iran's main sources of hard currency. For years, front companies and smugglers have facilitated the flow of dollars from Iraq into Iran.

That's all from me for now. Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have.

Until next time,

Hannah Kaviani

If you enjoyed this briefing and don't want to miss the next edition, subscribe here. It will be sent to your inbox every Wednesday.

Families Of Detained, Killed Iranian Protesters Beaten, Warned To Keep Silent

Iran has cracked down on anti-regime protests sparked by the September death in custody of Mahsa Amini, arrested for allegedly violating strict dress rules for women.

Iranian authorities are beating, firing, and threatening the families of protesters who were detained or killed during the violent suppression of the four-month-long anti-government demonstrations to force them to remain silent, the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said on January 25. "In addition to hanging, shooting, and imprisoning Iranians to crush the protests, Islamic republic authorities are attacking the family members of those they have killed and jailed to silence cries for justice and freedom," CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi said in the statement.

Iran Athlete Says 'No Regrets' After Losing Eye At Protest

Protesters hold placards at a march in central London on January 21 against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

An Iranian archer who lost sight in her left eye after being shot by security forces has said she has "no regrets" about joining nationwide protests. Iranian authorities have cracked down on more than four months of anti-regime protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, arrested for allegedly violating strict dress rules for women. Kosar Khoshnoudikia, a member of Iran's national archery team, had been shot at a rally last year in her hometown of Kermanshah, in the Kurdish-populated west, said the Norway-based rights group Hengaw. "I have felt no regrets for being there on that day, at that time," Khoshnoudikia said.

Iranian Supreme Court Rejects Death Sentence Appeal By Protester

Amnesty International has blasted Iran for the trial of the 22-year-old Mohammad Ghobadloo, who was sentenced to death after a trial where his lawyers were not present. (file photo)

Iran's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Mohammad Ghobadloo against his death sentence on a charge of "corruption on Earth," raising fears among his legal team that he may be executed in the near future.

Mahdakht Damghanpour, Ghobadloo's lawyer, said in a post on Twitter that the court accepted the appeal of his conviction on the charge of murder, but on a separate charge of "corruption on Earth," the appeal failed.

"We have registered the appeal four times, and each time the court has refused to register and accept it," Damghanpour said.

Ghobadloo was charged for his alleged involvement in an attack on police with a car, which resulted in the death of one officer and the injury of five others.

"Corruption on Earth" is a charge often leveled by Iran's judiciary in cases allegedly involving espionage or attempts to overthrow the government.

But with months of unrest over the death in September of a young woman for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly rattling the country, courts have taken to using the charge against protesters who have flooded the streets in mass demonstrations.

Amnesty International has blasted Iran for the trial of the 22-year-old Ghobadloo, who was sentenced to death after a trial where his lawyers were not present.

The rights watchdog says the "sham trials" of protesters are "designed to intimidate those participating in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran."

Ghobadlou, who is said to suffer from mental problems, was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in custody, according to his supporters.

His mother has pleaded for his life in a video message posted online, while three European politicians who have sponsored Ghobadloo in an attempt to protect him from prosecution have urged Iran overturn his death sentence.

Iranians have flooded streets across the country in protest since Mahsa Amini's death, with women and schoolgirls putting up unprecedented shows of defiance in what appears to be the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

In the face of mass protests around the country since Amini's death in mid-September, Iranian authorities have warned of harsher penalties to participants in the unrest.

Four convicted protesters have already been executed and others remain on death row after being handed death sentences.

Earlier in January, following a report of the imminent execution of Ghobadloo and another protester, Mohammad Broghani, hundreds gathered in front of the Rajaei-Shahr prison in Karaj chanting anti-government slogans.

The regime has blamed Western governments for the unrest and has responded to the protests with a bloody crackdown that human rights groups say has left almost 500 dead and hundreds more injured.

Thousands more have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, and others, amid concerns about the charges against them.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iranian Soccer Player Scores Goal, Doesn't Celebrate, Gets Banned By Government

Iranian soccer player Reza Shekari (file photo)

An Iranian professional soccer player has been summoned to face a disciplinary committee and banned from participating in the country's Premier League after he showed solidarity with protesters by not celebrating after scoring a goal.

Reza Shekari, who plays with Golgohar FC, said in a post-game interview that he did not celebrate his goal after scoring "due to the conditions of the country and the mourning of the people."

It was not immediately clear how long the player has been banned.

Shekari, 24, also emphasized that he and his teammates are “forced to play football” these days.

Since the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for an alleged clothing violation in September, several celebrities and sports personalities, including retired soccer star Ali Daei, have been interrogated and had their passports confiscated after showing support for the protests.

The unrest over the 22-year-old's death, has put women's rights -- and a lack of freedoms in general -- in the Islamic republic in the spotlight. Daily protests and symbolic gestures across the country have shown the built-up anger many Iranians feel toward the system of rule and pose one of the biggest threats to authorities since the revolution in 1979.

In the face of this deep-seated resentment, authorities have pushed a brutal, and often deadly, crackdown.

Another Iranian professional soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison on a charge of "assisting in waging war against God."Nasr-Azadani had faced the possibility of a death sentence.

The case has provoked a strong reaction from the international soccer community, including an announcement from the global professional soccer players union FIFPRO that it was "shocked and sickened" by such a punishment for campaigning for women's rights and basic freedoms in one's own country.

Ali Karimi, a former soccer player with Bayern Munich and once the captain of Iran’s national soccer team, has also been a target of the government for his support of the protesters and his posts on social media, including on Instagram, where he has nearly 12 million followers.

Karimi, widely regarded as one of the greatest Iranian players of all time, has condemned Amini’s death while lending his support to the protesters, particularly women. He has also urged security forces not to allow “innocent blood to be shed.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described efforts by celebrities to support the protesters as “worthless” and has called for judicial action against them.

Since Amini's death, more than 500 people have been killed in the police crackdown, according to rights groups. Thousands more have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iran Charges 16, Including Several Teens, For Protests Amid Reports Of Forced Confessions

A group called the Detainees Followup Committee, which was set up to monitor the arrests, said that among those detained were several teenagers -- including a 15-year-old girl -- and eight women.

Iran has charged 16 people, including several teenagers, in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia for planning demonstrations and accusing them of espionage amid reports those detained gave confessions after being beaten.

In November, 25 people were arrested for allegedly having connections with "spy organizations" and "attempted to deceive and incite youth and teenagers through social networks to join protests" against the government after the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody in September.

A group called the Detainees Followup Committee, which was set up to monitor the arrests, said on January 22 that among those detained were several teenagers -- including a 15-year-old girl -- and eight women.

It added that 16 of the 25 are now being prosecuted in the case, and that even though none of them knew each other before being held by police, they went through "intense pressure during interrogations."

"None of them knew each other before and during the interrogations. They were forced to confess against each other after being beaten and threatened with rape," the committee said.

It added that the cases were being held in the Urmia Revolutionary Court even though some in custody should be in courts set up for minors.

Public anger erupted after the September 16 death of the 22-year-old Amini, who was in custody after being detained by morality police in Tehran for "improperly" wearing a hijab.

Since Amini's death, Iranians have flooded streets across the country to protest against a lack of rights, with women and schoolgirls making unprecedented shows of support in the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

In response, the authorities have launched a brutal crackdown on dissent, detaining thousands and handing down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.

Protests in Iran do not have a centralized leadership, and protest calls are planned by people and often anonymous groups on social media. The country's leaders have blamed Western governments for the unrest.

One of the anonymous groups that has played a role in driving the protests is called "Youths of Tehran's Neighborhoods." Other cities have seen similar initiatives.

The role of younger Iranians in the unrest has been accompanied by reports of mass arrests of teens and heavy sentences for those convicted in adult courts.

The U.S.-based activist group HRANA quoted an informed source on January 4 as saying that the Revolutionary Court in the northern city of Sari handed down a death sentence to 18-year-old Arshia Takdastan after he was accused of throwing a bottle and a stone at a police car during a protest in the city of Nowshahr in September.

The court said Takdastan's actions constituted "corruption on Earth," a charge often leveled in cases allegedly involving espionage or attempts to overthrow the government and which the courts have taken to using in recent months against protesters angered over Amini's death.

The same court sentenced to death another teenager, 19-year-old Mehdi Mohammadifard, who was arrested during the same demonstration as Takdastan. Mohammadifard's offense was helping to organize and lead a September 21 rally in the city of Nowshahr.

Human rights groups say the crackdown has left nearly 500 people dead and hundreds more injured, in addition to the arrests.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda
Updated

U.S., U.K., EU Level New Sanctions Targeting Those Linked To Iran's IRGC

Pedestrians walk past graffiti daubed on a wall outside the Iranian Embassy in London on January 14.

The United States, Britain, and the European Union have issued new sanctions on dozens of Iranian individuals and entities for Tehran's deadly crackdown on dissent following the death of a young woman while in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly.

The sanctions, announced on January 23, include several officials linked to Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), but did not go as far as putting the military force on terror blacklists.

In Brussels, EU foreign ministers said they had agreed to impose travel bans on officials including Abbas Nilfrushan, a deputy commander in the IRGC who has led a unit that has taken a major role in quelling unrest sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September.

Minister of Sport and Youth Hamid Sajjadi was also placed on the list for his role in going after athletes who spoke out against repression and the authorities amid reports from rights groups that almost 500 protesters have been killed in a crackdown over the unrest, seen as one the biggest threats to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

Britain said it had placed sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities over the country's "brutal repression" of its people, including a crackdown on anti-government protests and the recent execution of British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari.

The move freezes the assets of Deputy Prosecutor-General Ahmad Fazelian, who the British Foreign Office said was "responsible for a judicial system characterized by unfair trials and egregious punishments, including use of the death penalty for political purposes."

"Those sanctioned today, from the judicial figures using the death penalty for political ends to the thugs beating protestors on the streets, are at the heart of the regime's brutal repression of the Iranian people," British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

"The U.K. and our partners have sent a clear message through these sanctions that there will be no hiding place for those guilty of the worst human rights violations."

In Washington, the U.S. Treasury said a further 10 people had been added to its sanctions list, all of whom are linked to the IRGC or officials around it.

The unrest that has swept Iran since Amini's death on September 16 has been met with thousands of arrests by security forces and calls from lawmakers for harsh penalties.

At least four people have been executed so far in relation to the protests, while several others have been handed death sentences and are on death row.

While the sanctions once again tighten around Tehran and its leadership, EU foreign ministers debated, but did not put the IRGC on its terrorist blacklist.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who headed the meeting in Brussels, said such a designation could not be applied until a court in one of the bloc's 27 members makes a ruling against the IRGC for acts of terror.

"It is something that cannot be decided without a court decision first," he told reporters.

The bloc had already imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iranian officials for their response to the unrest.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

Iranian Female Political Prisoners Publish Letter Demanding Halt To Executions

(file photo)

A group of 30 female political prisoners incarcerated in Iran's notorious Evin prison have published a letter demanding a halt to executions of those protesting the death of a young woman while in police custody, as well as an end to unjust sentences in response to the unrest.

The letter, signed by Friba Adelkhah, Faezeh Hashemi, Hasti Amiri, Narges Adib, Sepideh Gholian, Gelareh Abbasi, Farangis Mazloum, and other prisoners emphasizes concerns over the "unfair and nontransparent" judicial procedures being used in Iran.

The signatories to the letter, published on January 22, noted that they "have come together to say no to the death penalty and defend the people's right to live in justice."

Iran has been rocked by unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, with women and schoolgirls making unprecedented shows of defiance in the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

Amini died after being detained in Tehran by the country's notorious morality police for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly. Authorities have said she died of illness but her family and supporters say she was beaten while in detention.

A brutal government crackdown on dissent has seen thousands of people arrested, including journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others voicing opposition to the government.

Four protesters have already been executed for their alleged actions, while two others, Mohammad Ghobadlou and Mohammad Broghani, had their sentences upheld by the country's Supreme Court and remain in prison on death row.

More than 500 people have been killed in the crackdown, according to rights groups. Some lawmakers have demanded a harsh response to the unrest, saying heavy penalties, including death sentences, are warranted for protesters.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

EU Ministers Agree On New Package Of Sanctions Against Iran

People take part in a rally against the Iranian regime in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on January 16.

EU ministers on January 23 agreed on a new package of sanctions against Iran, the Swedish EU presidency said. "Ministers adopted a new package of sanctions against Iran, targeting those driving the repression. The EU strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters," the presidency said in a tweet, without giving further detail. Sources told Reuters last week that EU foreign ministers would add 37 individual entries to the EU's sanctions against Iran on January 23. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

EU Says It Cannot Brand Iran's IRGC As A Terror Group Before Court Ruling First

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (file photo)

The European Union cannot list Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity until an EU court has determined that it is one, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on January 23. The European Parliament last week called on the EU to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity, blaming it for the harsh repression of domestic protests and the supply of drones to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine. "It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first," Borrell told reporters before a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels. To read the original Reuters story, click here.

Iran Warns EU Of 'Reciprocal' Response To Guards Terror Label Vote

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (file photo)

Iran has warned the European Union that it would take "reciprocal" measures after the European Parliament voted to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group. "The parliament [of Iran] is working to place elements of European countries' armies on the terrorist list," Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Twitter on January 22. Members of the European Parliament voted on January 18 to include the IRGC on the 27-nation bloc's terror list in "light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters and its supplying of drones to Russia."

Iranian Currency Falls To Record Low Amid Isolation, Sanctions

The rial has lost 29 percent of its value since nationwide protests erupted in Iran in September. (file photo)

Iran's currency fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar amid the country's increasing isolation and possible new European Union sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The dollar was selling for as much as 447,000 rials on Iran's unofficial market on January 21 compared with 430,500 the previous day, according to the foreign exchange site Bonbast.com. The rial has lost 29 percent of its value since nationwide protests following the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Iran Guards Claim That EU Terror Label Would Be A 'Mistake'

Members of the European Parliament voted on January 18 to include Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the EU's terror list. (fie photo)

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on January 21 warned the European Union against making a "mistake" by listing it as a terror group, after the bloc's parliament called for the measure. Members of the European Parliament voted on January 18 to include the IRGC on the 27-nation bloc's terror list in "light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters, and its supplying of drones to Russia." The vote is nonbinding but comes with EU foreign ministers already due to discuss tightening sanctions on the Islamic republic next week.

Despite Roadblocks, Residents In Iran's Zahedan Again Hold Anti-Government Protests

Molavi Abdulmajid: "Until the issue of Bloody Friday and the people of Zahedan who were killed and injured is not resolved, this situation will continue."

Anti-government protesters took to the streets after Friday Prayers in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan, despite attempts by security forces to ward off demonstrations by choking off the main roads leading through the city.

Molavi Abdulmajid, an adviser to Molavi Abdolhamid, a spiritual leader for Iran’s Sunni Muslim population, said in an interview with RFERL’s Radio Farda that military forces had set up checkpoints in the city on January 20 in “an attempt to create terror in the city after the appointment of the new commander of the country's police force.”

Abdulmajid said the Islamic republic wants them to stop the demonstrations, which were sparked by the death of a young woman in September while in police custody in Tehran and exacerbated by a brutal crackdown, known as Bloody Friday, in Zahedan.

"Until the issue of Bloody Friday and the people of Zahedan who were killed and injured is resolved, this situation will continue," Abdulmajid added.

During the Bloody Friday massacre in Zahedan on September 30, almost 100 people were killed and hundreds injured by security forces during unrest triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini and the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a local police commander.

Meanwhile, Abdolhamid once again criticized government officials and the security situation in Sistan-Baluchistan Province in his sermon on January 20, saying in a thinly veiled reference to 83-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that "80-year-olds and 90-year-olds should not make decisions for today's youth."

Abdolhamid is the director of the main Sunni seminary in Iran and has been under pressure for his comments against the Islamic republic.

Videos published on social media after prayers on January 20 showed fresh demonstrations in Zahedan with people chanting anti-government slogans.


Anger over Amini's death on September 16 has prompted thousands of Iranians to take to the streets nationwide to demand more freedoms and women's rights. The widespread unrest represents the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

The activist HRANA news agency said that, as of January 15, at least 522 people had been killed during the unrest, including 70 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

Sunni Muslims make up the majority of the population in Sistan-Baluchistan Province in southeastern Iran where Abdolhamid is based but make up only about 10 percent of the population in Shi'a-dominated Iran overall.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Mahsa Amini's Family, Lawyer Say They're Being Pressured To Blame Medical Staff For Her Death

Mahsa Amini died on September 16, prompting thousands of Iranians to take to the streets nationwide to demand more freedoms and women's rights.

The lawyer of the family of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old girl whose death in mid-September while in police custody has led to months of nationwide unrest in Iran, says the primary investigator has failed to adequately probe the case and has urged them to blame medical personnel for the tragedy.

In an interview with the Faraz website, Mohammad Saleh Nikbakht, the lawyer for the Amini family, said that four months after Amini's death, "incomplete investigations have been carried out without [the family's] presence or participation as the complainant."

Amini was detained by the morality police while visiting Tehran in September because she was allegedly wearing a head scarf, or hijab, improperly. Iranian authorities say she died of natural causes, but eyewitnesses and her family say the young woman was beaten by security agents.

Nikbakht called on investigators to study the two-hour period of Mahsa's arrest and transfer to the Morality Police Center instead of pushing him and Amini's family to accept the "late arrival and failure" of the medical staff as the cause of her death.

"In less than two hours, 95 percent of the vital signs of this young woman were lost, and Mahsa was taken to the hospital like a dead person," Nikbakht said, adding he was speaking out even though security officials have forbidden him from participating in any interviews with domestic or foreign media.

Amini died on September 16, prompting thousands of Iranians to take to the streets nationwide to demand more freedoms and women's rights. The widespread unrest, which continues, represents the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

Nikbakht said that Iran's judiciary has not handed over investigation documents or the hospital report to the family. He said the Kasra hospital, where Amini died, prepared a 500-page report that includes the opinions of various doctors, including the doctor in charge of resuscitation, but that the judicial authorities did not hand over this report to doctors representing the Amini family.

Protests over Amini's death have been met with a violent government crackdown.

The activist organization HRANA said that, as of January 15, at least 522 people have been killed during the unrest, including 70 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent by detaining thousands, including several foreigners.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iranian Lawyers Warn Judiciary Over Defendant's Rights Abuses

Lawyers gathered in Tehran gathered to protest the suppression of security forces on October 12, 2022.

A group of 45 Iranian lawyers and law professors has published an open letter objecting to the deprivation of fundamental rights for defendants amid a deadly government crackdown following months of unrest over the death of a young woman while in police custody for how she was wearing a head scarf.

Signed by Mohsen Borhani, Houshang Pourbabaei, Soheila Rajabpour, Farideh Gheirat, Javad Kashani, and Ali Mojtahedzadeh, the letter, addressed to the country's judiciary and published on January 18, emphasizes that the right to freely choose a lawyer -- which many of the thousands detained during the unrest have complained about -- is recognized by the constitution and failing to honor such basic rights in security and political cases presents "a legal dilemma and challenge."

Iran has been rocked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in unrest marked by unprecedented shows of defiance by women and schoolgirls in what appears to be the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

The brutal government crackdown on public demonstrators and dissent has seen several thousand people arrested and most of them forced to use lawyers from a list approved by Iran's judiciary chief. The lawyers on the list are court-approved and have either collaborated with the state security establishment or do not have the resources to defend their clients, according to the Center for Human Rights In Iran (CHRI).

More than 500 people have been killed in the crackdown, according to rights groups. Several thousand more have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others.

Some lawmakers have demanded a harsh response to the unrest, saying heavy penalties, including death sentences, are warranted for protesters.

CHRI said on January 10 that at least 44 lawyers had been arrested since September to block their ability to seek justice for arbitrarily arrested activists and protesters. Eighteen remain in detention, and the rest have been released on bail but potentially will still face charges, CHRI said in a news release.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iranians Rally Behind Executed Poultry Worker, Kids' Coach

Mohammad Hosseini was hanged in an Iranian prison on January 7.

While Mohammad Hosseini's execution was intended as a message from Tehran that involvement in ongoing antiestablishment protests will not be tolerated, his memory lives on as a victim of state repression.

The 39-year-old poultry worker and community-minded coach had no support from those closest to him as he faced charges of killing a member of Iran's paramilitary forces as mourners demonstrated in a city outside the Iranian capital in November.

After being found guilty of "corruption on Earth" in a rushed trial, Hosseini received no visits from friends and relatives as he sat on death row. Nobody, not even his three siblings, pleaded publicly for his life to be spared before he was hanged in early January, and reports suggest that no one immediately claimed his body.

His brother, with whom Hosseini did not have a close relationship, was given his body only after he promised "not to speak to anyone and bury him in silence" sources told RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

But in the weeks following his death, Hosseini has been increasingly embraced by supporters who see themselves as "mothers," "brothers," and "sisters" of a victim of state repression who lived a simple life, dealt with medical conditions, and gave to the community by training impoverished children in the martial arts.

Hosseini was hanged on January 7 along with 22-year-old Mohammad Mehdi Karimi. The two were convicted for the November 3 killing of Basij militia member Ruhollah Ajamian in Karaj, a city just west of Tehran.

Authorities said Ajamian died from multiple blows from "knives and other hard objects, including stones" allegedly delivered by a group of mourners marking 40 days since the death of a demonstrator. The slain protester is just one of more than 500 victims of Iran's violent crackdown on the mass demonstrations that broke out in over 100 cities across the country following the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in September. The 22-year-old woman had been detained for allegedly not wearing her hijab, or head scarf, properly.

According to the Iranian authorities, Ajamian was unarmed when he was attacked while attempting to open a road closed by the mourners.

Hosseini and Karimi, who were sentenced to death following a fast-tracked trial in which they were not given access to legal representation of their choice, each denied the allegations against them.

Their trial lasted less than a week and relied on confessions the men gave under torture, according to Amnesty International, which noted that state media aired potentially damning video testimony even before their case got to court.

Hosseini, who reportedly dealt with bipolar disorder, was shown saying that he was on his way to the cemetery in Karaj to visit his parents' graves when he saw "a young man who had fallen to the ground."

"Because I have mental issues, I ran away," he said in the video, which also included images of martial arts weapons taken from Hosseini's home as evidence.

"These are for sports, dear," Hosseini said when asked about the weapons.

Allegations Of Torture

In another video also published by state media, he said he spent "less than 10 seconds" at the scene of Ajamian's killing, and suggested that the Basij member was already dead.

Lawyer Mohammad Sharifzadeh Ardakani, who was initially barred from representing Hosseini, said on December 18 that he managed to meet him in prison, where the accused tearfully said he had been tied up, kicked in the head, and shocked with electricity to make him confess to his alleged crimes.

"A person's confession under torture has no legal merit," Ardakani said on Twitter. He was subsequently charged over his comments and released on bail.

Ardakani later said that after Hosseini was convicted he filed for a retrial, but had not managed to convince the court to halt the death sentence. He said he found out about his client's execution as he headed to discuss the case with the authorities.

Details about Hosseini's luckless life led to an outpouring of grief and sadness. A photo taken during his trial where he was seen holding his face in an apparent state of shock and disbelief went viral.

"I think about your loneliness, the mother you didn't have to cry for you, the father who wasn't there to shout your name," journalist Sadaf Fatemi wrote on Twitter.

Gohar Eshghi, the mother of blogger Sattar Beheshti killed in 2001 in the custody of Iran's cyberpolice, called on authorities to hand Hosseini's body over to her. Camelia Sajadian, whose son Hassan Torkman was reportedly killed in Iran's ongoing crackdown on antiestablishment protests, announced that she had arranged for a headstone for Hosseini, referring to him as her "dear son."

Others have visited Hosseini's grave and showered it with flowers, distributed food to the poor in his memory, or offered their condolences with comments on his Instagram page, which quickly gained over 60,000 followers.

"I didn't know you until three weeks ago, I hadn't heard your name and I had no idea who you were. But now I visit your page and cry for you like a sister who has lost a brother," one woman commented under a photo in which Hosseini was shown practicing martial arts.

Mohammad Hosseini was a champion in several martial arts, including kung fu.
Mohammad Hosseini was a champion in several martial arts, including kung fu.

Hosseini's workplace, by contrast, did not allow any kind of memorial for him, one of his colleagues to Radio Farda, while other sources said he was never informed that his execution was imminent.

"Usually prisoners [on death row] are taken to solitary confinement the night before their hanging, but Hosseini was not taken to a solitary cell," one source told Radio Farda on condition of anonymity. "[The authorities] did not want anyone to find out that he was about to be executed."

Hosseini is one of four people who have been hanged in Iran in connection with the nationwide protests that began in September.

The executions have been condemned inside and outside the country, with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk saying that they amount to "state sanctioned killing."

Rights groups have warned that about two dozen more who have been sentenced to death or await trial are at risk of being executed.

Rights Group Says Iranian Security Forces Closing Roads Around Zahedan To Preempt Protests

Molavi Abdolhamid, Zahedan's leading Sunni cleric (center), is a vocal critic of the government and its response to nationwide protests. (file photo)

A rights group says security forces have closed the roads leading to the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan in an attempt to ward off demonstrations after Friday Prayers in the city on January 20.

People in Sistan and Baluchistan province have been holding protest rallies every Friday since September 30, when a demonstration turned deadly as security forces of the Islamic Republic cracked down hard on demonstrators.

During the so-called Bloody Friday massacre in Zahedan, almost 100 people were killed and hundreds injured by security forces during unrest sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in custody of the morality police and the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a local police commander.

On January 19, the Baloch Activists Campaign quoted an informed source as saying military forces had set up checkpoints in the city and made it difficult for cars to move by creating obstacles.

The Rasad Balochistan website also reported that troops are trying to prevent people from joining a protest rally at the Makki Grand Mosque in Zahedan by establishing "super security measures."

Last month, a leaked audio recording from the Iranian pro-regime Coalition Council of Islamic Revolution Forces appeared to show the secretary of the council admitting to the accidental killing of women and children during Bloody Friday.

Earlier, another leaked document from the Fars agency, published by the Black Reward hacking group, shows Khamenei telling security and military officials to try and disgrace cleric Sunni Muslim Molavi Abdolhamid, who is a vocal critic of the government, instead of arresting him.

Anger over Amini's death on September 16 has prompted thousands of Iranians to take to the streets nationwide to demand more freedoms and women's rights. The widespread unrest represents the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

The activist HRANA news agency said that as of January 15 at least 522 people had been killed during the unrest, including 70 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

Sunni Muslims make up the majority of the population in Sistan-Baluchistan Province in southeastern Iran where Abdolhamid is based but make up only about 10 percent of the population in Shi'a-dominated Iran overall.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iran Warns EU Not To List Revolutionary Guards As Terrorist Entity

IRGC troops march during a military parade commemorating the anniversary of start of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran.

Iran warned on January 19 that the European Union would "shoot itself in the foot" if it designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity, a day after the European Parliament called on the EU and its member states to do so. Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, said during a phone call to the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, that the IRGC is "a formal and sovereign organization" that helps guarantee Iran's security. The European Parliament blames the IRGC for the repression of domestic protesters and the supply of drones to Russia's military for use in Ukraine. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Load more

XS
SM
MD
LG