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April 99, Week 3
|Iran Journalists Seek More Rights||April 18|
|Iran Cleric Rejects Overture from Clinton||April 17|
|Iran Urges U.S. Deeds, Not Words, for Better Ties||April 16|
|Trial of Iran Dissident Cleric Ends||April 15|
|Britain, Iran to Renew Relations||April 14|
Iran Journalists Seek More Rights
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- More than 345 journalists in Iran are calling on the country's moderate president to uphold their rights in the face of a media crackdown by his hard-line rivals. |
The Hamshahri daily reported Sunday that 349 journalists sent a letter to President Mohammad Khatami to protest the way reporters and editors are being treated and the closure of several newspapers.
``Over the past year, eight daily and weekly newspapers, each employing tens of journalists, have been closed down with different methods and various excuses,'' said the letter, published by Hamshahri.
Three writers opposed to the government and two other dissidents were killed in mysterious circumstances late last year. The Intelligence Ministry said in January that it had detained some of its own agents for involvement in the killings.
Earlier this month the moderate Zan newspaper was banned by the hard-line judiciary after it published a message by Iran's former empress, Farah Diba, and printed a cartoon deemed insulting to Islam.
Last week, Mohsen Kadivar, a reformist clergyman and university professor whose lectures and newspaper interviews had angered the hard-liners, went on trial after two months in jail.
The journalists' letter called on Khatami to define the rights of journalists under the law, and demanded that journalists who are prosecuted should be tried by a jury in public courts.
Kadivar and Faezeh Hashemi, the managing director of Zan, are fighting for their cases to be heard by public courts instead of revolutionary courts, which are closed to the public and do not have juries.
Khatami's moderate faction is locked in a power struggle with conservative rivals who oppose his pro-democracy reforms that include more media freedom.
Iran Cleric Rejects Overture from Clinton
TEHRAN (Reuters) - A top hard-line Iranian cleric Friday rejected recent conciliatory remarks by
President Clinton, saying they were contradicted by Washington's hostile policy toward Iran.
"These (Americans) are crooks. Why are some people so naive and believe them?" Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said in a sermon during weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran carried on state radio.
Clinton said in Washington earlier this week that Iran had been subject to "quite a lot of abuse from various Western countries," and should be told it had a right to be angry.
"He coins these words, but at the same time America holds military maneuvers with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Persian Gulf and poses a threat to the region," Jannati said.
The United States holds regular war games with its Gulf Arab allies, including the UAE, which is involved in a territorial dispute with Iran.
"In Azerbaijan, they plan to set up a military base. What they want is Iran. They want to besiege us," Jannati said.
Some Azeri officials have called for a U.S. base to be set up in Azerbaijan, Iran's northern neighbor, to counter what they call Russian threats.
"What are these double-standard policies?" said Jannati, secretary of the powerful Guardian Council and a leading figure among conservatives opposed to moderate President Mohammad Khatami.
Khatami's Foreign Ministry Thursday welcomed Clinton's remarks, but said Tehran wanted action by Washington to end hostility toward the Islamic republic.
Two decades of adversarial relations between the two countries have thawed somewhat since Khatami called for grassroots exchanges last year.
Iran has repeatedly called on Washington to release its assets, frozen after the 1979 Islamic revolution, and end acts of hostility such as trade sanctions.
The United States broke off diplomatic ties with Iran after militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took its staff hostage.
It has since imposed sanctions on Iran, accusing it of backing international terrorism and seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charges.
Iran Urges U.S. Deeds, Not Words, for Better Ties
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran Thursday welcomed conciliatory remarks by U.S. President Bill Clinton, but
said Tehran wanted action by Washington to end hostility toward it.
"Clinton's remarks are an admission of the unjust relations America has always had with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that is what Iran has stressed in the past 20 years," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.
"These remarks reflect a change in American officials' statements and are a sign of a kind of realism toward Iran ... But the norm in relations between countries is behavior and actions, and remarks are not enough," Asefi said.
Clinton said in Washington on Wednesday: "I think it is important to recognize ... that Iran, because of its enormous geopolitical importance over time, has been the subject of quite a lot of abuse from various Western nations.
"And I think sometimes it's quite important to tell people, look, you have a right to be angry at something my country or my culture or others that are generally allied with us today did to you 50 or 60 or 100 or 150 years ago," Clinton said.
Asefi said what was important for Tehran was "a practical change in the American government's policies and behavior toward Iran," IRNA reported.
Hostile for two decades, relations between the two countries have thawed somewhat since moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami last year called for grassroot exchanges.
Iranian officials have repeatedly called on the United States to release Iranian assets, frozen after the 1979 Islamic revolution, and cease acts of hostility such as trade sanctions.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who outranks Khatami, has ruled out any thaw, saying Washington is bent on destroying Tehran's Islamic government.
The United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran in April 1980, five months after militant students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran. They held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Washington has since imposed sanctions on Tehran, accusing it of backing terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charges.
Trial of Iran Dissident Cleric Ends
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - An Iranian court is due to issue a verdict
within a week after it ended the trial of a dissident theologian accused of defaming
Iran's Islamic system, newspapers reported on Thursday.
The case of Mohsen Kadivar, a Shi'ite Moslem cleric and popular seminary lecturer, is expected to test the limits of freedom of thought in the Islamic republic.
Kadivar stands accused by a Special Court for Clergy of defaming the country's Islamic system and confusing public opinion through speeches and press interviews. He has been jailed since February.
The conservative Jomhuri-ye Eslami, one of a handful of media organisations allowed inside the courtroom for the one-day trial, quoted the judge as saying the ruling would be issued within a week.
It would then be forwarded to the general prosecutor's office at the traditionally secretive tribunal for confirmation, before informing the suspect himself of the decision.
Kadivar, a little known thinker who has been catapulted to fame because of his democratic challenges to the conservative clerical establishment, could still protest the verdict, which would then be reviewed by a higher court at the same tribunal.
The judge ordered him to remain in jail pending the verdict.
The case has put the 40-year-old religious thinker at the centre of a factional storm, pitting moderates backing President Mohammad Khatami against the conservative clerical establishment.
At issue are the underpinnings of Iran's system of supreme clerical rule, increasingly under attack by popular demands for greater political participation and democratic rights.
Kadivar argued in his defence the court had no jurisdiction over political and press violations, which he said would have to be addressed by an ordinary tribunal in the presence of a jury.
"This court is illegal and so are all the actions taken against me. I have pressed charges over this with the military prosecutor's office," he was quoted as saying by Salam newspaper, which also had a reporter present at the trial.
But Judge Mohammad Salimi, like Kadivar a mid-ranking cleric, dismissed his objection, insisting the charges were neither political nor press-related.
"This court decides whether your case should be sent to (an ordinary court). It is in your and our interest that the case does not go there," he said.
"You have raised questions about the Islamic and republic aspects of the regime. How do you answer these charges?"
Kadivar insisted he was innocent and asked to be acquitted.
"I reject these charges. I have not engaged in propaganda against the sacred regime of the Islamic republic. All I have done is to criticise things, which is free under the constitution," he said.
"In my interviews, I have had reformist intentions. I have only sought to advise and encourage good deeds...What I have said and written has been in defence of the regime," he said.
His lawyer Ayatollah Hossein Mousavi-Tabrizi urged the court to view Kadivar's interviews and speeches in a scholarly context.
"There is a difference between propaganda and scholarly debate. My client's speeches are of a scholarly nature and by no means propaganda against the regime," he said.
Britain, Iran to Renew Relations
LONDON,(Xinhua) - Britain and Iran are expected to end years
of diplomatic quarrel with the imminent appointment of ambassadors in
each other's capitals, a British Foreign Office spokesman said on
"We remain committed to an agreement to exchange ambassadors. We hope to exchange ambassadors shortly," a Reuters report quoted a Foreign Office spokesman as saying.
The exchange of ambassadors would formally revive the political and economic relations between the two countries, which was severed years ago when Iran's late leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a death decree on British author Salman Rushdie.
Rushdie was accused of blasphemy against the prophet Mohammad in his novel "The Satanic Verses."
British Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett is planning a visit to Tehran. His visit would be the first by a British minister since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
"(Fatchett) hopes to visit soon but no dates have yet been set," the spokesman said.