LATEST: Political Prisoners Urge President Obama to Lift Sanctions & Engage with Iran

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President Hassan Rouhani’s declaration on Tuesday, “We are ready to immediately resume talks on nuclear issue,” has continued with an Iranian media campaign — part PR, part reality — for nuclear talks.

Fars features a statement by the head of Iran’s armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, invoking Ayatollah Khamenei, “As the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has said we don’t rule out negotiations, [though] we see the sanctions as a non-military and soft invasion.”

At the same time, Firouzabadi denounced last week’s move in the US Congress for more sanctions on Tehran, “The US is devil in nature and we don’t expect anything other than this from that government.”

Fars also highlights a letter to Rouhani from Catherine Ashton — the European Union’s foreign policy chief and lead negotiator for the 5+1 Powers on the nuclear issue — “I stand ready to continue talks to find a resolution to Iran’s nuclear issue as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Press TV’s lead story casts Israel as the threat to engagement. It quotes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to visiting US legislators, “I know that some place their hopes on Iran’s new President….And while everybody is busy talking to him…the centrifuges [for uranium enrichment] will keep on spinning.”

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Political Prisoners Urge President Obama to Lift Sanctions & Engage with Iran

More than 50 prominent Iranian political prisoners have written President Obama “to bring to his attention the devastating effects of crippling economic sanctions and the intensified efforts to diplomatically isolate Iran in the international community”:

We believe the time has come for our two countries to turn a page and start a new era of mutual understanding. In our view, the tenure of this government may be the last chance to bring this conflict to a reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution. It is clear that there are parties and actors in both camps who do not wish the conflict to come to a peaceful end and prefer to see it drag on longer. But reason calls for perseverance in diplomatic efforts with the aim of achieving a faster and less costly resolution to this conflict.

Signees including Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani; leading reformist politicians Mohsen Mirdamadi, Mohsen Aminzadeh, Abolfazl Ghadyaani, Feyzollah Arabsorkhi, and Mostafa Tajzadeh; student activist Abdollah Momeni; human rights activist Narges Mohammadi; and journalists Isa Saharkhiz, Bahman Ahmadi Amoui, and Keyvan Samimi.

Rights Groups Slam Rouhani Over Pour-Mohammadi’s Nomination As Justice Minister

Rights groups on Thursday slammed President Hassan Rouhani over his selection of Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi for Justice Minister, urging him to withdraw the nomination.

Reporters Without Borders, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and Human Rights Watch said that rights groups have implicated Pour-Mohammadi — deputy Intelligence Minister from 1990-1999 and Interior Minister from 2005-2008 — in abuses that may constitute crimes against humanity.

Claims against Pour-Mohammadi include his alleged involvement in the executions of thousands of political dissidents in 1988 and the assassinations of dissident intellectuals in 1998.

The rights groups warned that, as Justice Minister, Pour-Mohammadi “could play a role in influencing investigations into human rights abuses.”

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director at the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said that instead of appointing Pour-Mohammadi as Justice Minister, “authorities should abide by their international obligations and investigate his role in committing egregious rights abuses and parliament should refuse to confirm him if the nomination goes forward.”

Ghaemi added that: “throughout his election campaign, Rouhani repeatedly promised to uphold the rights of the Iranian people and to address serious rights violations.”