Almotamar.net, Google - An employee of the British embassy in Tehran went on trial Saturday, accused of being a spy in a move the foreign secretary David Miliband said "brings further discredit" to Iran's regime. A tired-looking Hossein Rassam, chief political analyst at the embassy and an Iranian citizen, "confessed" in court that he had recruited a network of 50 agents on behalf of the embassy in the past year and attended pro-democracy demonstrations to gather information and foment unrest.
The dramatic appearance of Rassam came at the second mass trial of Iranians who had protested following the disputed June elections, which returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by an unexpectedly high margin.
The British government says that Iran had given assurances that Rassam would not be tried. Rassam, 44, was one of nine locally employed British embassy employees arrested but was the only one to be charged – with damaging the country's national security.
Miliband last night said: "I am deeply concerned by the unjustified charges laid against Hossein Rassam in Tehran. Hossein is a member of our embassy staff going about his legitimate duties. Iranian action against him only brings further discredit on the Iranian regime."
According to the official IRNA news agency, Rassam confessed at the trial to handing over information about the protests to "Washington" and had apologised and asked for clemency. The semi-official Fars news agency said Rassam had admitted acting as liaison for senior British officials in the embassy, including Tom Burn, the second secretary, who was expelled, and had accompanied him to meetings with opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. He had also confessed that the embassy had used "bursaries" and an English-language examinations scheme as a cover for contacts with members of the Iranian elites.
Rassam's trial comes just days after Britain's ambassador to Iran, Simon Gass, attended Ahmadinejad's inauguration ceremony.
Last month, the release of Rassam on $100,000 bail was applauded by the foreign secretary who suggested strongly that the issue had been resolved.
Also appearing at yesterday's hearing was language teacher Clotilde Reiss, who had been arrested at Tehran airport on 1 July on charges of espionage. She was leaving the country after spending five months working as a teacher in Isfahan and had also been an employee of the French embassy. Miliband said European nations were united in their opposition to the trial. He said he was in close contact with members of the EU and had spoken to French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, the current EU president. "We have reaffirmed our solidarity in the face of this latest Iranian provocation," he added.
During the court session, a prosecutor read out an indictment outlining what he said were plans by the US and Britain to foment unrest in Iran with the aim of toppling the ruling Islamic system, the IRNA news agency reported. The vague indictment also accused the two powers of providing financial assistance to Iran's reformists to undermine hard-line clerics within the ruling system.
Iranian defendants included Ali Tajernia, a former reformist lawmaker, Shahaboddin Tabatabaei, a prominent leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's largest reformist political party, and Ahmad Zeidabadi, an outspoken journalist opposing hardliners.
Iran's reformist and moderate parties have denounced the mass trial. The first session held last Saturday featured confessions that many human rights groups say were obtained under duress. One of the most high-profile defendants was a former vice-president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who served under former reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
The Republic of Yemen has strongly denounced the Israeli aggression which led to the killing of the Palestinian Minister and Head of Popular Committee Against the Settlement and Apartheid Ziad Abu Ain.
"While the Republic of Yemen denounces this brutal assault, it shoulders Israel the responsibility of this atrocious act that contradicts humanitarian values," said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a release issued on Wednesday.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has held in Amman, Jordan, a four-day workshop on the implementation of Yemen's project portfolio.
The workshop, which started on Monday, also intends to review the general conditions and adopted procedures for all IFAD projects and financing agreements.
Representatives of at least 30 relevant bodies take part in the workshop, including Economic Opportunities Fund (EOF), and Ministries of Planning and International Cooperation, Finance, Agriculture and Fisheries.
At the opening session of the workshop, Yemen's project portfolio Director Mohammed Abdul-Qader talked about the importance of applying the IFAD-adopted procedures and regulations of the financing agreement and the general conditions to implement projects, stressing that IFAD's all projects aim to eradicate poverty in rural areas.
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdul Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani has warned that Yemen is on the prim of a looming catastrophe because of foreign influence and private interests of some parties in the crisis Yemen has witnessed.
This was mentioned in his speech at the 10th round of the Manama Dialogue which is taking place during 5 – 7 December in the Bahraini capital, Manama.
“I believe that the Gulf initiative to settle the Yemeni crisis has included most, if not all, the related aspects to improve a general and active approach to solve security and strategic issues which primarily requires participation of the most effective bodies,” GCC Secretary General al-Zayani said.
“Despite all the support given to Yemen by the regional and international community, this country is at the edge of an impending disaster due to foreign influence and private interests of some influential parties in the crisis,” he added.
A US journalist and a South African citizen held by al-Qaeda in Yemen were killed during a rescue attempt by US and Yemeni forces, the Supreme Security Committee (SSC) said on Saturday.
A security crackdown was carried out by Yemeni Counter-terrorism forces in coordination with U.S. forces to free the two hostages who were held at the terrorist Saeed al-Daghari's house in Abadan village in Shabwa province, an official source at the SSC told Saba.
The security crackdown asked at first the terrorist elements to surrender themselves and release the hostages, but they refused to do so and immediately proceeded to shoot the hostages to kill them, the source explained.
The U.S. denounced on Thursday the bomb attack on the Iranian ambassador's residence in Sana'a, calling for a "thorough" investigation.
"The United States condemns the bombing at the Iranian ambassador’s residence in Sana’a earlier on Wednesday and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf was quoted as saying in a statement.
"Attacks on diplomatic facilities and against diplomats contravene all international norms and can never be justified or excused," Harf said, urging the Yemeni authorities to open a " thorough" investigation and "bring the perpetrators to justice".
On the other hand, France condemned on Thursday, in a statement issued by its Foreign Ministry, the bomb attack on the Iranian ambassador's residence in Sana'a, expressing its condolences to the families' victims.