Has hard-line cleric behind Ahmadinejad been sidelined?

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Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi was often referred to as the spiritual father of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The hard-line group he led, the Endurance Front, was one of Iran’s rising political parties and premier contenders in the 2012 parliamentary elections. But since his falling out with the former president and his preferred candidate in the 2013 presidential election withdrew due to hard-line pressure, Reformist newspaper Armand Daily is wondering if one of the most hard-line clerics in Iran has left his political party and been sidelined from the political scene.

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Ahmadinejad’s VP interrogated 11 times over 55 hours

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Mohammad Reza Rahimi, vice president under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has broken his silence about his judicial problems.

Rahimi has long been rumored to have had some involvement in a corruption case involving Iran’s largest insurance company.

Last week, conservative parliament member Ali Motahhari accused the judiciary of lacking independence and asked why accusations against Rahimi were never pursued. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jaffar Dowlatabadi responded that the judiciary indeed had gone after Rahimi and that he was out on bail.

However, Dowlatabadi did not share details of the case. Rahimi’s lawyer also confirmed that his client was out on bail but denied that it had anything to do with the corruption case of the Iran Insurance Co.

Rahimi told Fars News at the funeral of an Iranian official’s brother that he had been silent about the accusations and the court case but said for “for the last two years, during 11 sessions, for 55 hours, I was interrogated.”

Rahimi criticized the prosecutor for publicly speaking about his case because his case was still being investigated and that no indictment or announcement of a crime has been issued.

The case against him is “political,” said Rahimi, who was upset that statements by the prosecutor caused concern among his friends, family and others close to him. Rahimi was also upset that accusations against him were aired on television because his mother is ill and has had suffered from heart attacks and his wife has had two heart surgeries.

“A court case has to be convened and I will present my explanations,” he said. But in suggesting that he may not have a fair trial, he said: “The only court in which there is not even a small amount of injustice is divine justice because we are all Muslims and the absolute ruler is God.”

Rahimi said that all of his problems began once he became vice president, and that he has never had any other trouble before that. He served as vice president from 2009 to 2013.

He said that, after all of his interrogations, he told the prosecutors that they could ask him any other questions if they needed to in the future. When asked by the Fars reporter who specifically interrogated him, he laughed.

Media speculated about Rahimi’s involvement after one of the defendants in the case said in 2010 that he had given signed blank checks to an individual with the initials MR to use at his discretion for supporting conservative parliamentary candidates in the 2008 parliamentary elections.

In total, 78 individuals have been tied to this case.

Khamenei: US enmity toward Iran became clear in negotiations

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At a speech this morning in Iran’s religious city of Qom, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that one of the blessings of the latest nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany was that from the latest statements of US officials in the last few weeks, US enmity toward Iran became clear for everyone to see.

“The latest negotiations,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, “showed America’s enmity and also their inability.” Continue reading

Hezbollah publication in Iran suspended

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Yalasarat al-Hussein weekly, the official media outlet of Ansar-e Hezbollah, has been suspended by Iran’s Press Supervisory Board, which announced that two other hard-line publications have also received warnings. These actions come as 65 members of parliament issued a written warning to President Hassan Rouhani over his approach to media critical of his administration.

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Rouhani adviser denies Foreign Ministry rejected parliamentary supervisors

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President Hassan Rouhani’s adviser has denied earlier reports that Iran’s Foreign Ministry, which is in charge of nuclear negotiations, has rejected the addition of two conservative supervisors sent on behalf of parliament to their negotiation team.

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Ahmadinejad’s VP out on bail confirms prosecutor

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Tehran’s prosecutor confirmed that Mohammad Reza Rahimi, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vice president, is currently out on bail in regard to involvement in a bribery and embezzlement case at the Iran Insurance Company, Iran’s largest insurance firm.

While the prosecutor, Abbas Jaffari Dowlatabadi, did not state when the former vice president posted bail or exactly what the charges were against him, this is the first official confirmation that Rahimi’s case has been pursued after years of accusations and rumors connecting him to the high profile insurance corruption case. Interestingly, the prosecutor appears to have confirmed Rahimi’s bail only after criticism by conservative MP Ali Motahhari that the judiciary had not pursued Rahimi in this particular case. Continue reading

Rouhani criticized by supporter for statement on 2009 elections

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Prominent analyst and Tehran University professor Sadegh Zibakalam wrote an open letter to President Hassan Rouhani criticizing his recent statements on the 2009 elections, indirectly suggesting that instead of using the occasion to placate hard-liners, he could have focused on his campaign promise to end the house arrests of the 2009 presidential candidates and freeing political prisoners.

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