Iran Daily: Backing Rouhani, Top MP Challenges Judiciary Over Detentions

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Motahari: “%he question is rather what happens to the people after being summoned to court”


Supporting President Rouhani’s response to pressure from Iran’s hardliners, a top MP has criticized the Iranian judiciary over detention of political prisoners.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ali Motahari (pictured) wrote in the pro-Government daily Etemad on Tuesday:

It’s not merely the question of summoning people to the courts, the question is rather what happens to the people after being summoned. Basically, that’s what President Rouhani meant when he criticized the judiciary for summoning some people to the courts of law.

Last weekend Rouhani, who is in a running battle with hardliners and the judiciary over political and social issues denounced a three-month ban on public appearances by reformist former President Mohammad Khatami. Almost 90 MPs, including Motahari, backed the challenge Khatami, whose images and quotes are barred from publication in Iranian media.

Rouhani also issued a general statement in a University of Tehran ceremony, “There’s a chance that some entities are idle and have nothing to do; therefore, to create work for themselves, they summon a number of people [to the courts].”

The head of the judiciary, Sadeq Amoli Larijani, countered on Monday that Rouhani was “unfair”: “It is not out of idleness that the justice department summons people. It does it on the basis of its principal and intrinsic duty and for the sake of applying justice.”

Motahari, long known as a “maverick” conservative who will criticize regime officials, cited the case of families who are unaware of the location of a relative who is seized and of the holding of detainees in solitary confinement so “under physical and mental pressure, they will give in and admit to what is compatible with their imagined crime”.

He cited the cases of two journalists: “It’s more than a month that Sassan Aghaei is behind bars and…Ms. Hengameh Shahidi was released after going on hunger strike… without the judiciary presenting any evidence against her”.

Motahari asked, “How long are MPs…supposed to be the only point of reference for the families of people unjustly detained? They constantly come to us, whereas we cannot do much for them.”

In addition to the detention of activists, journalists, students, and writers, the judiciary arrested Rouhani’s brother and former senior advisor Hossein Fereydoun. He is now out on $15 million bail awaiting trial, while the brother of 1st Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri was detained last week.

Backing Nuclear Deal, UK Hosts Iran Nuclear Chief

Expressing support for the July 2015 nuclear deal, British officials are hosting Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

Salehi arrived in London on Tuesday night and is meeting Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, leading MPs, and media outlets.

Johnson spoke by phone yesterday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and restated the UK’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, despite Donald Trump’s imminent decertification of Iranian compliance.

Earlier this week UK Prime Minister Theresa May explained to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu why the UK would not follow any US withdrawal.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


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