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 United Nations has warned of the accelerating collapse of basic services in Yemen due to the aggression, siege and fighting which was described as “devastating.”
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw said in a press conference in Cairo that the current estimations indicate that more than 14 million people in Yemen cannot get sufficient health care.
He noted that 20 governorates, out of 22 governorates, are affected and that about 2.3 million people were forced to leave their homes which created a deteriorating and desperate humanitarian situation over the past seven months, stressing the importance of promptly finding out a political solution before it is over.
The UN official said that 3 million children and women are in need for medication because of malnutrition while 1.8 million children are deprived of schooling since March.
Klaauw pointed out the increasing deterioration of the basic services as a direct result of the dispute and the lack of necessary supplies to pay salaries or to cover maintenance costs.
Oxfam welcomed on Friday the changing of the British policy on exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia which is used in its aggression against Yemen.
The Oxfam emphasized citizens are in the fire line not only because of weapons, but also of the siege imposed on Yemen which affected its main services and economy.
Josephine Hatton, director of the Middle East program at Oxfam, said in a statement the organization welcomed the alteration of the British attitude towards the denial of Saudi Arabia in targeting citizens in its airstrikes against Yemen, and insisting to conduct serious investigations in that regard.
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond called on Thursday to carry out a serious investigation on the Saudi air raids against Yemen.
In an interview with the BBC, Hammond said the denial of Saudi in targeting citizens by its airstrikes against Yemen since March is not enough, serious investigations must been conducted in that regard.
A suicide bomber blew himself up on Tuesday in front of the Faculty of Agriculture in Ibb University, a security source said.
"The explosion did not cause any casualties," the source said, noting that the suicide bomber detonated himself before he was arrested by the security men, who noticed he was wearing an explosive belt.
The Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) organization said on Monday that thousands of Yemeni people still incapable to receive medical care because of the absence of transportation means and closing the health facilities.
In its statement, the MSF said many of health facilities have totally or partly been destroyed as a result of the airstrikes and war in the country.
MOSCOW– Russia affirmed on Saturday its support to the exerted efforts to hold a new talks' round on the Yemeni crisis and with the participation of the various sides.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said, in its statement issued Saturday, it is important to do all the possible efforts in order to end violence in Yemen and reach peace all over the country via implementing dialogue gathering all the Yemeni political powers.