Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and al-Qaeda's one-time media voice Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was seized by CIA agents and taken to the US after Turkey deported him to Jordan this month, it was revelaed March 7. AFP reports that Abu Ghaith was seized by Turkish authorities last month at a luxury hotel in Ankara after a tip-off from CIA, and was held there despite a US request for his extradition. Turkey apparently deported Abu Ghaith to Jordan on March 1 to be sent back to his native Kuwait, but he was seized by CIA agents in Jordan and taken to the United States. In a revelation that could be convenient for the slowly mounting war drive, it appears that before arriving in Turkey, Abu Ghaith had been in Iran...
The Iranian Parliament on Feb. 3 voted 192-56 to impeach the country's labor minister, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, because he appointed an official who was implicated in the deaths of anti-government prisoners in 2010. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that this constituted an abuse of power by parliament speaker Ali Larijana. Larijana is the leader of the conservative party in the parliament, which has been in a power struggle against Ahmadinejad. Lawmakers sought to impeach Sheikholeslami after he appointed former chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi to the head of the Social Security Organization. Mortazavi had been suspended from his post as chief prosecutor in 2010 after a parliamentary inquiry found that he was responsible for the deaths of three prisoners who were arrested during anti-government protests after the country's disputed presidential election.
A group of independent UN human rights experts on Friday urged Iran to stop the execution of five Ahwazi activists. UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran Ahmed Shaheed stated that the execution of Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka, Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Hashem Shabain Amouri and Hadi Rashidi is unacceptable. They have been sentenced on charges of enmity against God, corruption, and propaganda against the government.
Iranian authorities on Jan. 2 advised the 1.5 million residents of Isfahan to leave the city if they can because air pollution has reached emergency levels. (BBC Radio, Jan. 2) Tehran's Air Quality Control Company also warned Jan. 2 that air pollution in the capital has also reached alarming levels, and ordered elementary schools and daycare centers closed in the city due to heavy smog. (Mehr News Agency, Jan. 1) Early last month, Tehran residents were likewise urged by authorities to lave the city in response to "dangerous" smog levels, blamed on nearly incessant bumper-to-bumper traffic. Similar edicts were issued for Isfahan and Arak. Schools were also ordered closed, and a cabinet meeting in the capital cancelled. Hospital admissions during the smog alert jumped by 15%, primarily due to people suffering headaches, respiratory problems and nausea. (AAP, Dec. 6; IBT, Dec. 5; AFP, Dec. 3)
Iranian lawyer and prominent human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh on Dec. 4 ended a 49-day hunger strike in protest of her prison conditions and a travel ban imposed on her family. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had expressed concern for Sotoudeh's deteriorating health and urged the Iranian government to lift the travel ban, saying it was not justified by international law. After judicial authorities agreed to lift the travel ban on Sotoudeh's daughter, Sotoudeh ended her strike. Sotoudeh was sentenced in January 2011 to 11 years in prison after being found guilty of "acting against national security" and "making propaganda against the system" for which she will serve five and one years, respectively. The remaining five years of her sentence result from allegations that she was a member of the Human Rights Defenders Center, an organization originally founded by Shirin Ebadi and four other Iranian lawyers, many of whom have also been detained or otherwise punished for their work. In addition to her prison term, Sotoudeh's punishment also requires that she refrain from leaving the country or practicing law for the next 20 years. Sotoudeh has spent a large part of her detention in solitary confinement.
Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities to protect all detainees and prisoners from harassment and degrading treatment, after nine female political prisoners—including some deemed "prisoners of conscience" by Amnesty—started a hunger strike Nov. 1 in response to alleged abuse by prison guards. The women, all held in Tehran's Evin Prison, include activists and journalists. They say they were subjected to humiliating and degrading body searches and had personal belongings conficated by female guards from the Prison Security Section the day before they began their strike. The women plan to continue their hunger strike until they receive a formal apology from the prison authorities, return of their belongings, and guarantees that such incidents will not happen in future.
We aren't being ironic in the slightest. The only irony is that Mitt Romney posed as the protector of the Iranian protesters when by doing exactly that he actually utterly betrayed them—placing them at greater risk of repression and generally weakening their position within Iran. Here's what he said, according to the New York Times transcript:
And then the president began what I've called an apology tour of going to — to various nations in the Middle East and — and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness. Then when there were dissidents in the streets of Tehran, the Green Revolution, holding signs saying, is America with us, the president was silent. I think they noticed that as well. And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel that — that they noticed that as well.
Representatives for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) voiced their concern Oct. 2 over Iran's recent crackdown on activists speaking out within the nation. The OHCHR is most notably concerned by the September arrest of human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah. According to a statement by the OHCHR, Dadkhah has been sentenced to nine years in prison for "membership of an association seeking to overthrow the government and propaganda against the system." In addition to his prison sentence, Dadkhah has also received a 10-year ban on legal practice and teaching. Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who had been the press adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was also arrested last month for having "insulted" the Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei.