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.
A military raid on houses in Hota town of Lahj province resulted on Sunday in arresting three terrorists elements, a military source at the Fourth Military Region Command said.
The military source said that a number of automatic weapons and RPG launchers and silencer pistol were found during the raid, noting that the military and security services are still investigating and pursuing the remnants of the terrorist elements and cells who fled from the area.
The European Union has denounced any act aiming at diminishing the political transfer in Yemen, stressing that parties involved in armed clashes must abandon their weapons they seized from state's army and to abide by effective laws.
In a release issued by the EU Commission today on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy under the motto "Sharing Youth in the Democratic Process," it made it clear the world is focusing on involving youth in the democratic process.
"Half of the population in Yemen is under 15 years and one third of the population is between 15-29," the release said. The released added that the Yemeni youth cannot wait more as they are aspiring for more prosperous future and calling for a new Yemen people share power and resources away of dominance of any group or individuals.
President Abd-Rabb Mansour Hadi on Saturday met with a number of Sheikhs, dignitaries, and social figures from Heziaz area, southern the capital Sana'a.
Hadi during the meeting said that Yemen now is facing critical situation due to current Houthi escalation in and around the capital Sana'a, which needs more caution and avoiding not entering in a conflict with Houthi armed militias.
"We don't mind, and under the constitution and laws, to organize peaceful protests, but trying to storm government facilities, schools, police stations or houses is something forbidden,'' President Hadi said.
He urged everyone to bear his national responsibility in order to avoid fighting in the capital
Yemen's ambassador to the United Kingdom Abdullah al-Radi met on Friday in London with British Minister of State for Middle East Affairs Tobias Ellwood.
In the meeting, al-Radi and Ellwood discussed the underway arrangements for the next meeting of Friends of Yemen Group scheduled on September 24 in New York, as well as the aspects of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The British minister confirmed his country's strong support to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to complete the entitlements of the transitional stage and translate the outcomes of the national dialogue conference (NDC). He stressed that the international community would not allow any group or party to obstruct Yemen's exit march to the prospects of harmony ,peace, development and prosperity.
The U.S. ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller reiterated on Thursday his country's keenness to support the political process in Yemen and to provide support to Yemen to face the entitlements of the current transitional phase.
In a meeting between Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Dr. Mohamed al-Saadi and the U.S. ambassador, the two sides reviewed the developments at the national arena and the cooperation between the two countries, as well as the underway arrangements for holding the meeting of the Group of Yemen Friends on September 24 in New York.
Yemen and the US discussed here on Wednesday the joint cooperation between the two countries in higher education and scientific research areas.
During the meeting, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Hisham Sharaf and US ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller reviewed the measures to dispatch the top 10 high school graduate students to study in the US universities in 2014-2015.
Moreover, they discuss ways to increase the competitive opportunities for Yemeni postgraduate students within the Fulbright US Scholar Program.
- President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi received on Monday evening a phone call from Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
During the phone conversation, al-Faisal voiced his country's concern over the current Houthi escalation in and around the capital Sana'a, and in Marib and Jawf provinces.
He also expressed discontent of Saudi Arabia along with the GCC other states over such actions by Houthis that aim to undermine the political settlement process in Yemen in accordance with the GCC-brokered deal.
Arab Foreign Ministers have condemned political and security escalation in Sana'a, stressing their countries' full commitment to maintain Yemen's unity and sovereignty and rejection of any interference in its internal affairs.
In a statement issued on Sunday at the conclusion of the 142nd regular session of the Arab League Council, the Arab Foreign Ministers urged all Yemeni political forces, including Ansarallah, to abide by the initiative of the Presidential National Committee, which - as they said - is the proper and only solution to tackle the current crisis in Yemen, maintain its stability and security and complete the transition stage.