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.
Military units of the second Military Region raided on Monday a villa in 60 street in Mukala, which was used as a den by a terrorist cell to carry out terrorist acts.
A military source at the Military Region command said on Tuesday that the military forces surrounded the villa after receiving the information about the existence of a terrorist cell and clashed with the terrorists.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demanded on Monday Yemeni authorities to immediately increase protection for media workers in the country.
IFJ's renewed appeal is following an escalation in attacks over the last few days, including the murder of a senior journalist.
According to the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS), Abdul-Rahman Hameed Aldin, who worked for Sana'a Radio, was shot in the head last Friday [15 August] by an armed group in the capital Sana'a. He was taken to hospital where he passed away the following day.
GPC Leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, expressed his thanks and appreciation for the brotherly feelings the leaders and representatives of civil society organizations who have expressed strong disapproval and condemnation of the criminal and terrorist attempt that targeted his life through the tunnel, which was dug to his home.
An official military source at the First Military Region said Sunday that the army forces raided on Saturday night a terrorist cell in the city of Cotton and killed four terrorists and arrested five others.
Security forces have destroyed three car bombs in the Sixty-Meter Street in Mukalla, Hadramout governorate before arriving their targets, a military source said on Thursday.
The source said that a number of terrorists were killed and three soldiers wounded during their clashes with the terrorist attackers.
The defense ministry announced to reinforce the armed forces after the militants have killed 14 soldiers near Shibam city, Hadramout governorate.
President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi along with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh performed on Monday the prayer of Eid al-Fitr at Al-Saleh Mosque in the capital Sana'a.
The Eid prayer was also attended by parliament Speaker, Yahya al-Raei his deputy Hamir al-Ahmer, President Hadi's advisors, and Prime Minister's deputies, Ahmed Obaid Bin Daghr and Abdullah Mohssen al-Akwa'a, besides a number of ministers, military and security leaders, the heads of the political parties, civil society organizations, and social, political and cultural figures.
Assistant General Secretaries and head of the GPC regulatory agency sent telegrams of congratulations on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr on behalf of all the leaders of their regulators sectors to the leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, GPC Chairman, and to Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi - President of Yemen and First Deputy Chairman of the Conference GPC, on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr.
Saba Board Chairman and Editor- in-Chief Tariq al-Shami met here on Thursday with Russian ambassador to Yemen Vladimir Didohchin.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed aspects of cooperation between Yemen News Agency (SABA) and the Russian news agency and the different Russian media in exchanging news services, expertise and experiences in press areas.