Thursday’s Iran Events – August 23, 2018
By Staff Writer
A European Union spokesman said last week that the EU “attaches high importance to the human rights situation in Iran.” But the EU’s inaction speaks louder than its words. Whereas the Trump administration has issued fresh sanctions against 17 human rights abusers to date, the EU has imposed no new human rights sanctions since the 2015 nuclear deal. While Washington has repeatedly voiced robust support for Iran’s ongoing protests, the EU has offered only mild, and intermittent, expressions of solidarity.
On Tuesday, Iranian state television screened images of President Hassan Rouhani sitting in what was reported as a new “Kowsar” fighter aircraft.
Local media also reported that the plane was a fourth-generation fighter jet that had been designed and manufactured solely by Iranian military experts.
However, international aviation experts have been quick to cast doubt on the claim of pure Iranian technology and have suggested that the design is that of the U.S.-made F-5F jet, first built in the early 1970s. Tehran purchased 68 F-5s from America in 1974, five years before the Iranian revolution.
In a recent letter to Iran’s Attorney-General, Mohammad-Jafar Montazeri, 8 members of the WGCDICC (i.e., the Working Group for Determining Instances of Criminal Content; which is an organisation that makes decisions relating the filtering of Iran’s cyberspace) called for a review on Twitter ban.
Montazeri replied to their letter saying: “(Twitter) has been filtered according to a judicial order; there’s nothing that the WGCDICC can do about this”.
Montazeri even went on to call them criminals: “6 cabinet ministers wrote to me to discuss lifting the ban from certain channels (Twitter) in a meeting; I didn’t attend the meeting, because if I did, I would have been an accomplice to a crime”.
After Montazeri’s rejection of their request, the regime’s Ministry of Information penned another letter to him in which he declared his “legal reasonings” to Montazeri, asking him to give WGCDICC another chance.
This time, Montazeri’s deputy jumped in and replied in a rather threatening tone:
“Ministry of Information’s call for cooperating with the WGCDICC’s regarding a lift of Twitter ban, is simply illegal and criminal in nature. This subject will not be discussed with the WGCDICC or anyone else, and the ban will not be lifted at any stage. If anyone thinks that they can persuade the authorities by mentioning their request twice, they’re wrong!”.
Ghobad Ghasempour, 38, a Canadian national, was sentenced on Aug. 20, in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 42 months in prison for conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S. goods to Iran.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia and U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes for the Western District of Washington made the announcement.
“This sentencing exemplifies the outstanding investigative work by HSI special agents in conjunction with other law enforcement and government partners locally and abroad,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Dave Shaw. “The illegal export of U.S.-origin items to prohibited countries is harmful to U.S. national security and will not be tolerated. HSI will continue to aggressively pursue those that seek to violate these laws and jeopardize our nation’s safety.”
Ghasempour was arrested on March 28, 2017 as he entered the United States at Blaine, Washington. An investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego, California, revealed that Ghasempour had used front companies in China and co-conspirators in Iran, Turkey and Portugal to illegally export restricted technology products to Iran.
The US is prepared to use sanctions to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero, the US national security adviser, John Bolton, has said.
Donald Trump took the US out of Iran’s nuclear deal with the west in May and is imposing escalating sanctions, both to force Iran to renegotiate the deal and to end Tehran’s perceived interference in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.
Bolton was speaking as the new UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, met the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for the first time in Washington to discuss how to reduce Iranian influence, despite Britain’s continued support for the nuclear deal.
News reports are saying that Sunni worshipers who had gathered outside a prayer hall in Tehran’s eastern Resalat neighborhood were dispersed by the police and barred from entering the venue to hold communal prayers on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as God had commanded. Sources affiliated with Sunni activists say an official permit for the gathering had been obtained from Interior Ministry officials and the Tehran governorate’s political deputy.
After security forces attempted to violently repress protests at the Haft Tappeh sugarcane company in southeastern Iran, at least five workers were charged with national security crimes, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
The independent “Iran Kargar” website identified the workers as: Karim Alekasir, Ali Alekasir, Hamzeh Alekasir, Yahya Sa’di and Fares Sa’di.
“The five workers were released on bail after negotiations between labor representatives and judicial officials in Shush [city],” added the report. “The Haft Tappeh workers have not received any salary since May  and are in a very difficult living situation.”
The country’s biggest sugar production plant, which employs about 5,000 people, has been the site of protests against unpaid wages and benefits for the past two years.
A U.S. judge has denied bond to an Iranian-born U.S. resident accused of involvement in a conspiracy to spy for Tehran on Iranian opposition activists and Israeli and Jewish groups in the United States.
At Tuesday’s hearing at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey denied a defense lawyer’s request to release Majid Ghorbani on bond, ruling that the suspect posed a flight risk. Harvey ordered Ghorbani to remain in detention until a Sept. 6 hearing in Washington before U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman.
U.S. prosecutors announced charges against Ghorbani, a 59-year-old California-based Iranian, and a second man, Iranian-American dual national Ahmadreza Mohammadi Doostdar, 38, late Monday.