LATEST: Photo of the Day — Freed Political Prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh

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SUMMARY: Even by the standards of the Supreme Leader’s vivid rhetoric, his Tuesday speech to Revolutionary Guards commanders was especially colorful.

Ayatollah Khamenei advocated “heroic flexibility”, while advising, “A wrestler, who shows flexibility over technical reasons, should not forget who his opponent and enemy is.”

The Supreme Leader emphasized that this should be done with “complete loyalty to Islam and revolution values”. He cautioned that this was necessary because, as one “analyzes the enemies’ plots and behavior within the framework of the hegemonic system’s challenge with the Islamic Revolution”, he will be “further exposed to the arrogant powers’ fury and wrath”.

Fair enough. But what does this mean in practice?

Is Ayatollah Khamenei, with all his florid words, endorsing nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, and China)? Is he supporting discussions with Washington on other issues?

And, closer to home, has the Supreme Leader given a seal of approval to Hassan Rouhani’s “engagement”, even as the President fights a battle for authority with the Revolutionary Guards?

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Photo of the Day: Freed Political Prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh

Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of at least 11 political prisoners freed on Wednesday:


(Photo: Behrouz Mehri/AFP)

Video: Rouhani to US Channel “We Will Never Develop Nuclear Weapons”

In an interview with US NBC News, to be broadcast on Wednesday night, President Rouhani has repeated the line of Iranian officials — including the Supreme Leader — that the Islamic Republic will never develop nuclear weapons:

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16 Political Prisoners Released, Including Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, detained since September 2010, has been released from prison, according to her husband Reza Khandan.

The lawyer is one of 16 political prisoners — eight women and three men — who have suddenly been freed.

Sotoudeh, who represented a number of prominent activists before she was imprisoned, was serving a six-year sentence for actions against national security and propaganda against the regime, including an interview she gave to foreign media with her head uncovered.

Khandan said Sotoudeh was dropped off at their home by prison authorities on Wednesday evening: “It’s not a temporary release, it’s freedom.”

He continued:

We are all so happy from the depths of our hearts.

But we are waiting for the last prisoner to leave prison. Our joy will be complete then….The moment we are happy we think of others, those women who have been in prison for years without a single hour of furlough. It makes it difficult to be fully happy.

Leading reformist Feizollah Arabsorkhi, former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, and former MP Taher Mousavi have also been technically freed — all three were already on prison furlough.

Nader Babaei, Hossein Zarrini, and Mohammad Ali Velayati were released from detention, while the other women freed include journalist Mahsa Amrabadi, women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami, Christian convert Maryam Jalili, Mitra Rahmati, Farah Vazehan, Nahid Malek-Mohammadi, and Jila Makvandi.

Foreign Ministry “No Official Military Presence in Syria”

Responding to videos showing Iranian officers training a Shia militia in Syria, Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Tuesday, “We don’t have any official military presence in Syria and if any footage or propaganda exists in this regard, they should be pursued (studied) within another framework.”

Syrian insurgents passed the video to a Dutch TV channel after they attacked a former chicken farm in Aleppo Province where the Iranians were training members of the pro-Assad Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas militia. The footage was from a documentary project of a Revolutionary Guards veteran and two cameramen.

See Syria Special Updated: Iran’s Military, Assad’s Shia Militias, & The Raw Videos