US sentences Iranian businessman to 46 months in prison

 

The Department of Justice announced that Behzad Pourghannad, an Iranian businessman has been sentenced to 46 months in prison for violating sanctions and illegally exporting carbon fibers to Iran from 2008 to 2013. carbon fibers can be used in military equipment.

Pourghannad pleaded guilty to his charges in court.

Iranian female MP withdraws from re-election because of recent crackdown

Parvaneh Salahshouri, a female member of Iran’s parliament, said she will not seek re-election as a Majles deputy for Tehran. She cited not being able to convince her conscience in face of the recent crackdowns on protestors in Iran.

“The Iranian people voiced their protests but were met with bullets and arrests”, Salahshouri said in a tweet.

She added: “In view of the forces that limit the Majles’s power, ignoring the people’s demands and the recent incidents, despite all my religious feelings for the people and their kindness, I have not been able to convince my conscience to take part in the forthcoming parliamentary elections and have decided to withdraw from it”.

Ms. Salahshouri was elected four years ago as Tehran's MP and is a reformist politician.

She had previously slammed the Islamic Republic authorities for brutally suppressing mass protests in late December 2017, early January 2018.

In a notable speech in 2018, Salahshouri called for a referendum. She stressed the need to solve problems regarding Iran's foreign policy, the state's TV which is the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the Guardian Council's intervention in elections, and the supervision of the Supreme Leader's behavior by the Assembly of Experts.

Iran’s police chief says his forces “are worried about further protests”

 

The commander of Iran’s police forces Hossein Ashtari says his officers are worried about the repeat of the recent nationwide protests but “are ready to deal with them”.

“The recent sedition and security threats were immense and the perpetrators were using the same tactics that are being used by the Hong Kong protesters by setting up barricades and covering the road surface with sands”’ Ashtari said. 

“Our security forces are worried about the unrest in Iraq and Lebanon spill over into our country and we see a repeat of the recent protests. But we are ready to deal with them”, he added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 208 protesters in 21 cities have been killed, several hundred injured and 7,000 arrested during the crackdown against the recent protests in Iran. The NGO adds that the real death toll may be much higher.

Iran and US exchange prisoners

 

Iran and the US have conducted a prisoner swap involving Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang, detained in Iran, and Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani, detained in the US.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, announced it in a tweet on Saturday. He wrote that Soleimani and Wang would “be joining their families shortly”.

This was followed by an acknowledgement by US President Donald Trump, who stated that Wang "is returning to the United States."

Both Zarif and Trump mentioned that they were grateful for the help of the Swiss government during the negotiations.

American citizen Xiyue Wang has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016 after being accused of espionage.

Massoud Soleimani who works in stem cell research was arrested by U.S. authorities and accused of violating trade sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran.

US sanctions leaders of Iran-backed militias in Iraq for killing protestors

 

The US government has sanctioned the Iraqi leaders of three Iran-backed militias for killing dozens of anti-government protesters.

The Treasury Department designated Qais al-Khazali, Laith al-Khazali, and Husayn Falih 'Aziz al-Lami for their involvement in serious human rights abuses.

The State Department's senior official on Middle East, David Schenker, condemned Iran's interference in Iraqi affairs as he announced the sanctions on Friday.

He also decried “Tehran's increasing aggression in response to the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign”. 

"Iraqis have paid a steep and bloody price" because of the Iranian regime's involvement in the country, Schenker said.

Iranian Supreme Leader deterred MPs from contesting Iran gasoline price hike

 

Iran’s ayatollah Ali Khamenei secretly barred Majles deputies from demanding the reversal of a plan to increase the price of gasoline in Iran, said the Hizbullah Line, a publication associated with Khamenei’s office. The decision, by the Rouhani government, of increasing the price of gasoline, led to mass protests across the country in which hundreds were killed by security forces.

According to the publication, the overwhelming view of the MPs in the Majles was against the decision and many of them had predicted “widespread unrest across the country”.

However, only hours before a closed sitting of the MPs over the issue, the Speaker of the Majles, Ali Larijani, held a private meeting with Khamenei during which the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic cautioned MPs against “any action that contradicts the decision of the Supreme National Security Council, as the country is in a sensitive situation”.

“The Majles calmed down after Khamenei’s private message to its members”, the report adds.