Iran Uprising Live-Blogging (Wednesday June 24)

Iran Uprising Live-Blogging (Wednesday June 24)

I'm liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout. Email me with any news or thoughts. Send me instant messages at or njpitney on AIM. Scroll down for news related to the front-page headlines. Local Iran time is 8 1/2 hours ahead of Eastern time. To support this post on Digg, click here.

12:00 AM ET -- Thursday's live-blogging... can be found right here.

10:06 PM ET -- Rafsanjani, Mousavi meet with parliamentarians. "Mousavi and Rafsanjani met senior parliamentarians on Wednesday. The semi-official Fars news agency said only that the 'election and latest developments' were discussed and it was not clear whether the pair were trying to make peace with the hardline-dominated parliament or trying to win support."

9:59 PM ET -- Iran's deputy culture minister: 'Iran imposes no limitation on newspapers.'

9:48 PM ET -- AP: Iranian soccer players said to retire.

Several Tehran papers have reported that some Iranian soccer players are retiring from the national team, fueling speculation the departure was related to green bands the players wore in support of the country's opposition movement.

The flurry of conflicting reports on the fate of the players hails back to the incident last week, when several members on the Iranian team wore green tape on their wrists in a World Cup qualifier against South Korea in Seoul.

Some newspapers said the players are retiring voluntarily, reportedly because of their age, but at least one suggested they were forced out.

It was not possible to confirm the reports independently and calls to Iranian soccer officials were not immediately answered.

The speculation focused on two players who both wore green in Seoul: Ali Karimi, 31, and Mehdi Mahdavikia, 32. However, both had earlier announced plans to quit soon because of their age.

9:13 PM ET -- 'Tehran dwellers enter twilight zone.' Financial Times reporters Roula Khalaf and Najmeh Bozorgmehr capture life in Tehran:

You could be stuck in traffic one moment, and suddenly be surrounded by basij on motorcycles as they rush to put down a protest.

"We were driving through central Tehran on Monday when something seemed to go wrong - the traffic stopped, there were shouts of 'Allahu Akbar' [God is great], and people started running in all directions," relates a woman who was caught in a protest on Haft-e-Tir square on Monday.

There is another sign of trouble for Tehran dwellers: if you are next to a protest scene, your mobile signal dies, one of the many technological tricks the government has used to upset the protests.

As Tehran has been convulsed by its most dramatic crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with at least 20 people killed last week, hundreds injured and politicians as well as scores of protesters arrested, its residents have been caught in a twilight zone, gasping for normality amid deepening insecurity and uncertainty. [...]

"Life is not normal any more, I'm afraid to go out after 6pm," says Atousa, a 38-year-old electronic engineer. "I don't take my daughter out as much and I don't want her to see so many police in the streets," she adds.

"I feel disappointed and depressed. I don't want an unstable country . . . but I cannot tolerate the continuation of this government."

A brave Iranian emailed me this video he took yesterday of Iranian officials firing at demonstrators from a nearby roof.

8:48 PM ET -- "Foreign bullets." NBC's Ann Curry: "Today Iran's state tv reported that Neda was murdered by a foreign bullet. It is the only source for this claim."

8:35 PM ET -- Iranians gather at notorious Evin prison. The Los Angeles Times runs a powerful piece about Iranians gathering each day outside Evin prison in search of information about their missing family and friends.

Ali, a middle-aged man with five or six days' growth of stubble on his face, stares at the handwritten lists on the trailer. "My son's name is not here, but he called for a minute two nights ago," he says. "And I do not know where to go." [...]

A soldier in a gray uniform tries to disperse the people gathering in front of Evin. "Every night the new list will be stuck on the trailer," he says. "Come back tonight or tomorrow morning."

Still they wait.

8:18 PM ET -- Solidarity. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is in Sacramento today, released a statement to be read at a demonstration happening tonight in in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

"At the height of political and social unrest thirty years ago, thousands of Iranians risked everything for the chance of freedom in a new land. When they had to choose where to make their homes, where to raise their families, and where to start their businesses, they chose Los Angeles. Because of their courage, our City is a stronger city, and home to hundreds of thousands of Iranians -- the largest concentration of Persians outside of Iran.

"You have all gathered here tonight in the same spirit that brought you and your families here thirty years ago. Because 7,000 miles away, people are dying for their right to representative democracy. Millions have taken to the streets of Tehran to make their voices heard. And we're here in Los Angeles tonight standing in solidarity with those courageous voices.

"What we've learned anew from this seminal moment in history is that the voices of freedom know no boundaries. Messages of hope have traveled the globe by Twitter and Facebook. Shouts from the rooftops of Tehran echo in our hearts.

"I'm sorry I could not join you tonight to see the crowd of people lining the streets of Los Angeles in support of freedom in Iran.

"But make the voice of Tehran-geles heard in Tehran. Let them know that they are not alone, that the world stands with them in their quest for freedom and justice and a better future for Iran and the world.

"Thank you."

7:51 PM ET -- "We are at a critical point! An Iranian blogger posts a "request to Iranians outside Iran."

And the Iranian on Twitter known as PersianKiwi, who has been posting virtually non-stop for the last week and a half, posted a final ominous message tonight at around 9PM Iran time:

they catch ppl with mobile - so many killed today - so many injured - Allah Akbar - they take one of us

they pull away the dead into trucks - like factory - no human can do this - we beg Allah for save us -

Everybody is under arrest & cant move - Mousavi - Karroubi even rumour Khatami is in house guardwe must go - dont know when we can get internet - they take 1 of us, they will torture and get names - now we must move fast -

thank you ppls 4 supporting Sea of Green - pls remember always our martyrs - Allah Akbar - Allah Akbar - Allah Akbar

Allah - you are the creator of all and all must return to you - Allah Akbar -

7:15 PM ET -- Brent Scowcroft defends Obama on Iran. From an interview with President George H. W. Bush's national security adviser today with Al Jazeera:

Q: Obama aides told reporters there is little to nothing the U.S. can do. Is it demonstrating a weakness?

SCOWCROFT: No I don't think so. I don't think so. How can we be more influential? We don't control Iran. We don't control the government obviously. There is little we can do to change the situation domestically in Iran right now and I think an attempt to change it is more likely to be turned against us and against the people who are demonstrating for more freedom and therefore I think we need to look at what we can do best, which is to try to influence Iranian behavior in the region, and with nuclear weapons.

Al Jazeera is pushing the more sensational headline -- that Scowcroft said "of course" the U.S. has intelligence officials on the ground in Iran -- but it's pretty clear from the interview that Scowcroft has about as much information about U.S. activity in Iran as anyone who's been out of government for nearly 20 years.

6:30 PM ET -- "We basically cry every night." Two Iranian women who fled Iran for the United States explain their ordeal.

6:24 PM ET -- 70 university professors reportedly arrested. "According to the Kalameh website, this evening, June 24th, Mir Hossein Mousavi held a meeting with the university professors who are members of IAUTI. After the meeting, 70 attendees were arrested."

6:11 PM ET -- In praise of... Jose Antonio Vargas and Chas Danner. Vargas is the stellar Washington Post reporter who is far and away the best U.S. newspaper writer analyzing how technology is changing our politics and media (Vargas, in his spare time, also does groundbreaking reporting on HIV/AIDS). His story about Iran and technology is here -- and it highlights the role of Chas Danner, who among many other things, has been a tireless volunteer helping to gather links and information that ended up being posted on this blog.

6:07 PM ET -- "The Butcher" to oversee prosecutions of protesters. This does not look good.

The Iranian regime has appointed one of its most feared prosecutors to interrogate reformists arrested during demonstrations, prompting fears of a brutal crackdown against dissent.

Relatives of several detained protesters have confirmed that the interrogation of prisoners is now being headed by Saaed Mortazavi, a figure known in Iran as "the butcher of the press". He gained notoriety for his role in the death of a Canadian-Iranian photographer who was tortured, beaten and raped during her detention in 2003.

"The leading role of Saeed Mortazavi in the crackdown in Tehran should set off alarm bells for anyone familiar with his record," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch.

5:57 PM ET -- Time magazine's insightful story. Read this:

Day after day they marched, tens of thousands strong, defiant chanting demonstrators surging through the streets of Tehran, a capital unaccustomed to the shouts and echoes of dissent. The subject of their protest was the policies of Iran's supreme ruler. Some carried signs demanding his ouster. Others called for a return of long denied civil and political liberties and the enforcement of laws.... The crowd, at times numbering more than 100,000, was a colorful, sometimes incongruous cross section of Iranian society: dissident students in jeans; women shrouded in the black chador, the traditional head-to-foot veil; peasants and merchants; and most important the bearded, black-robed Muslim mullahs, the religious leaders of the Shi'ite branch of Islam.

Now, consider: that article is from Sept. 18, 1978 (with a few minor edits). Reader Pradeep, who sent the piece along, notes, "When you read the articles from back then, the analogies to the current revolution are stunning."

5:49 PM ET -- Tony Blair on Iran. CBS News sends over this excerpt from his interview tonight with Katie Couric.

5:10 PM ET -- Foreign journalist still in custody. Iran's government has on several occasions been more lax with foreign journalists than their domestic counterparts -- several foreign reporters were detained and then released after several hours.

Not so for Iason Athanasiadis, a Greek journalist based in Istanbul, who was arrested back on June 17. Tehran Bureau notes, "The arrest seems particularly perverse since Iason, on assignment for the Washington Times and GlobalPost, is a long time Iran-hand, Farsi-speaker, and Iran-lover, who spent 2 years at Tehran University. Efforts to secure his release are being managed by the Greek Foreign MInistry, and the Greek embassy in Tehran."

4:57 PM ET -- How to defend against riot police. In a sign of the times, many on the web are linking to this piece posted on describing methods of "defending yourself when attacked by Basij or Security forces."

Another sign of the times: YouTube videos with the faces of demonstrators blacked out after a few websites popped up urging people to identify people in the videos and report them to the government.

4:38 PM ET -- "The measure of a nation is its vote." Mousavi's Facebook page highlights posters featuring what the NIAC calls one of Khomeini's "more famous quotes."

4:30 PM ET -- July 4 invitations rescinded. AP reports: "An offer for Iranian envoys to attend U.S. embassy Fourth of July parties has been rescinded as the violent crackdown in Tehran continues, the White House said Wednesday. 'Given the events of the past many days, those invitations will no longer be extended,' presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said."

3:07 PM ET -- "Bullets Versus Facebook, Power Versus Dignity... Who Wins?" Via Andrew, a new message from Mousavi's Facebook page:

Guns versus 'the greatness of God'; armed forces versus mobile phones, batons versus mourning, lies versus cameras, state-run television versus twitter, bullets versus Facebook, power versus dignity... who wins?

3:04 PM ET -- The full CNN interview. Reader William passes along CNN's complete interview with an Iranian student emotionally recounting the brutal violence she'd seen at a demonstration today in Tehran.

2:45 PM ET -- If you'd like to support this post on Digg... click here.

2:23 PM ET -- Mousavi legal adviser reportedly arrested. An Iranian journalist on Twitter reports, "Ardeshir Amir Arjman, who is in charge of Mousavi campain's [sic] legal matters is arrested."

2:20 PM ET -- State Department: No Iranians have accepted July 4 invitation. From the AP:

The State Department says no Iranian diplomat has accepted an invitation from U.S. diplomatic posts abroad to attend embassy Fourth of July parties.

Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had authorized U.S. envoys abroad some weeks ago to invite Iranian diplomats to attend the annual celebration. Her authorization was required because Washington has no formal diplomatic relations with Iran.

Kelly said no Iranians have accepted, and he indicated that the U.S. saw little reason for them to, given the political crisis over their disputed presidential election.

2:08 PM ET -- Firing at crowds. This video, uploaded three days ago but apparently not widely viewed, seems to show the Basij paramilitaries firing shots at a crowd of people. Near the end, as the camera shifts right, you can make out uniformed police beating some members of the crowd.

2:05 PM ET -- Neda's family forced out. Via my colleague Stuart Whatley, the Guardian reports:

The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.

Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.

"We just know that they [the family] were forced to leave their flat," a neighbour said. The Guardian was unable to contact the family directly to confirm if they had been forced to leave.

2:00 PM ET -- Rumor patrol. You should confirm anything on Iran printed by with another source. They seem willing to print just about any rumor that floats across their collective desk.

1:55 PM ET -- Money leaving Iran? The Russian paper RBC Daily reports here that Russian and Italian officials are seeing large amounts of money, apparently held by wealthy Iranians, being moved out of the country into banks in other countries. An Iranian-American noted to me that it "someway parallels what happened around the '79 revolution, when the powerful and 'in-the-know' took out their money because of the infighting."

1:23 PM ET -- Who is writing this propaganda? Via reader Laura: "Iran said the gunman who killed Neda Agha-Soltan may have mistaken her for the sister of an Iranian 'terrorist,' the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Wednesday."

1:04 PM ET -- New photos from today's demonstration outside Iran's parliament. Published by the excellent Demotix, whose brave correspondents are still out trying to document the violence.

1:00 PM ET -- Tehran mayor wants protests allowed. Iran's state media:

Tehran's mayor has urged relevant Iranian officials to authorize peaceful opposition rallies, saying the public should have an outlet to express its opinions.

In a Tuesday interview with IRIB channel two, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf said that legalizing street rallies would prevent 'saboteurs who draw weapons and kill people'.

Qalibaf drew a clear line between 'those protestors who had voted in the presidential election but had doubts about the result' and 'some saboteurs, taking advantage of the situation'. [...]

Tehran's mayor stressed that the 'use of force' was the wrong way to clarify public's doubts about the election results, calling all 'the supervisory and executive bodies in the government' as well as, 'the media and presidential candidates' to play a major role in resolving the issues.

12:58 PM ET -- CNN: Obama administration reconsidering July 4 invites. "The Obama administration is seriously considering not extending invitations to Iranian diplomats for July 4 celebrations overseas, senior administration officials tell CNN. The officials said intense discussions on the issue were taking place, but the final decision had not been made."

12:24 PM ET -- Karoubi: Iran government "illegitimate." "Iran's moderate defeated candidate Mehdi Karoubi rejected Wednesday the June 12 presidential election result and said the new government was 'illegitimate,' his website reported. 'I do not accept the result and therefore consider as illegitimate the new government. Because of the irregularities, the vote should be annulled,' Karoubi said."

12:11 PM ET -- Iranian describes horrifying scene on CNN. Just watch:

Another Iranian who has been reliable in the past posts on Facebook, "In Baharestan we saw militia with axe choping ppl like meat - blood everywhere - like butcher . . . Fighting in Vanak Sq, Tajrish sq, Azadi Sq - now . ."

12:06 PM ET -- Big crowds. Video reportedly from today:

11:42 AM ET -- More reports of clerics putting pressure on Khamenei. From the Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat:

[S]enior sources of emulation in Qom were exerting pressures on the authorities in Tehran to search for a compromise to the current political crisis shaking Iran. They said a delegation from the Guardian Council's members visited the religious leaders and ayatollahs in Qom to get their public support for the legitimacy of the election and the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term. But an Iranian source told Asharq Al-Awsat: "But praise be to God, the sources of emulation did not support the demands" of the Guardian Council and added that many of the sources of emulation in Qom formed a "neutral" voice during this crisis and because of their tendency to remain "above politics" can play an important role during the crisis shaking Iran.

An Iranian source talked about reports to the effect that around 50 of the sources of emulation, ayatollahs, and clerics in Qom sent messages to Ayatollah Khamenei urging him to look into the complaints of the reformists and examine the reported violations.

11:02 AM ET -- State media: Mousavi 'disowns' Wednesday protest. From the state-funded PressTV: "Mir-Hossein Mousavi's website claims that the gathering outside Iran's Parliament (Majlis) building is not called by the defeated presidential contender. Following report that supporters of Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi -- another defeated candidate -- have staged an illegal gathering the parliament building on Wednesday Mousavi's website Kalemeh denied that he is behind the move 'This gathering has no link, whatsoever, to Mr. Mousavi and his camp, and is held independently,' reported on Wednesday."

Mousavi's camp actually posted yesterday that the rally was organized independently of his efforts. But this is account reflects two points: 1) the state's efforts to divide Mousavi from his supporters, and 2) the threat of arrest or worse that Mousavi faces in being associated with any behavior by opposition demonstrators that the state deems illegal.

10:53 AM ET -- Mousavi's wife: Iran under 'martial law.' AP reports, "The wife of Iran's opposition leader is comparing a government crackdown on protests to martial law. Zahra Rahnavard campaigned beside her husband, Mir Hossein Mousavi. She says on one of his Web sites that his followers have the constitutional right to protest and the government should not deal with them 'as if martial law has been imposed in the streets.' She is calling for the release of all activists and others arrested at protests."

10:44 AM ET -- Washington Times: U.S. sent letter to pre-election Khamenei. "Prior to this month's disputed presidential election in Iran, the Obama administration sent a letter to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, calling for an improvement in relations, according to interviews and the leader himself. ... U.S. officials declined to discuss the letter on Tuesday, a day in which President Obama gave his strongest condemnation yet of the Iranian crackdown against protesters."

Rather than reading the Washington Times write-up, though, I'd urge you to read this piece by Adam Blickstein putting it all in context.

10:30 AM ET -- Students released? NIAC: "The University of Tehran has reported that the students who were arrested during the attack on the campus last week have been released. This report has not been confirmed by independent media."

10:15 AM ET -- Doctor who tried to save Neda flees Iran for London. Author Paulo Coelho -- who was a friend of the doctor, Arash, who tried to save Neda's life -- posts an email he received yesterday:

Dearest Paulo,

Trying to leave the country tomorrow morning. If I don't arrive in London at 2 pm., something has happened to me. Till then, wait. My wife and my son are in (edited). Their phone (edited) Her email (edited) Please wait till tomorrow. If something happens to me, please take care of (name of wife) and (name of son), they are there, alone, and have no one else in the world. Much love, it was an honor having you as a friend.


He updated today to say Arash had arrived safely in the UK.

10:02 AM ET -- More bloody accounts from today's rally. From a reliable Iranian on Twitter, @persiankiwi: "I see many ppl with broken arms/legs/heads - blood everywhere - pepper gas like war... ppl run into alleys and militia standing there waiting - from 2 sides they attack ppl in middle of alleys...saw 7/8 militia beating one woman with baton on ground - she had no defense nothing -... so many ppl arrested - young & old - they take ppl away"

This sounds awful.

9:36 AM ET -- Shooting in In Baharestan Square reported. Unconfirmed messages are coming in about today's opposition rally from several usually reliable Iranians, all variations of this: "In Baharestan Sq. in the Police shooting, A girl is shot and the police is not allowing to let them help!"

Reader Amir sends along a map of the scene of the protest, which is located next to Iran's parliament.

Update: More from the same Iranian...

About 5,000 Protesters gatherd at Sadeghieh Sq, Bassij and Hezbollah attcking them

Gunshot being heard at Baharestan Sq.

All shops and Passages are closed at Baharestan SQ, Gunshot being heard from Jomhori St

Ppl gathered in Baharestan but police & plain cloths don't let the core of the rally to form

The New York Times reprints these messages:

just in from Baharestan Sq - situation today is terrible - they beat the ppls like animals

Ppl gathered in Baharestan but police & plain cloths don't let the core of the rally to form.

9:17 AM ET -- Solidarity. Iranian Jews demonstrate in Israel -- photo below via the Los Angeles Times. And here's a new, easy-to-read site listing rallies in the U.S. and abroad (you're also encouraged to list new ones).

9:05 AM ET -- The latest propaganda. Via Robert Mackey, Reuters translates the comically transparent "confessions" of demonstrators airing on state TV:

8:52 AM ET -- Gordon Brown's influence in Iran. Via reader JS, the UK Times publishes a uniquely British editorial responding to Iran's allegations that Gordon Brown help spur the opposition demonstrations:

The purported extent of British influence in the Gulf will be news to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It will appear particularly implausible, though possibly gratifying, to an intelligence service whose failings concerning Iraq will soon be scrutinised in yet another inquiry. And it is a bizarre and nonsensical notion. Gordon Brown's embattled Government cannot persuade more than 16 per cent of British voters to support it. The notion that it can with total secrecy incite hundreds of thousands of Iranians to take to the streets of Tehran is fantastic. It suggests that Iran's rulers believe Mr Brown has more sway with voters in Tehran than on Tyneside.

8:36 AM ET -- "Beat me!" A woman of incredible courage confronts the police:

8:34 AM ET -- "Disturbing account." ABC's Lara Setrakian: "just heard disturbing news of 22-yr-old in Mashad shot dead while chanting allahu akbar on roof. unconf, tho from trusted srce"

8:26 AM ET -- Celebrating the companies behind Iran's tech censorship. A software developer named Jason argues against the grain: "With regards to surveillance technology being provided to Iran by Western companies... I think that the presence of any communication infrastructure far outweighs the negative aspect of forced controls placed on that infrastructure. If you own the wire, you own the data. Having said that, there are ways to protect data, and there are ways to attempt circumvention of the internet controls. Cheers to the companies who connected Iran to the rest of the world; I can't imagine that the gov would've allowed it but for the ability to control it."

Update: Reader Grayson writes, "I just did an interview with an IT security expert (Atlanta area) who echoes the same sentiments expressed in your 8:26am post. Yes, selling surveillance tools to rogue governments is bad, but not as bad as people may think. Within most of these technologies are inherent ways for independent people to maneuver... as is the case in Iran.... Here's Ariel Silverstone on Iran and the internet. Tons of good info here that the, er, common reader can comprehend."

8:05 AM ET -- Iran media float Neda conspiracy theories. The Guardian's Robert Tait sums them up:

Jomhouri Islami newspaper is blaming her shooting on snipers from the MKO (a militant group calling for the overthrow of the republic). It said the group exploited the lack of security created by the demonstrations.

Javan, another pro-regime paper, blamed an even more unlikely source - my friend and recently expelled BBC correspondent Jon Leyne. It claims that Leyne hired "thugs" to shoot her so he could then make a documentary film.

8:01 AM ET -- Shirin Ebadi offers to represent Neda's family. "Shirin Ebadi, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel peace prize winner, has told Al Jazeera that she is prepared to represent the family of a young woman shot dead during a protest in Tehran."

Ebadi told Al Jazeera on Wednesday: "I am personally prepared to legally represent her family against the people who ordered the shooting and those who fired at her. This act was against the law."

7:48 AM ET -- A compromise? The possibility of Iran's post-election crisis ending up in some kind of power-sharing agreement has received little attention. But Time magazine's Tony Karon published a piece this morning suggesting that is the most likely scenario:

Despite fantasies of insurrection in some of the more fevered Western media assessments of the confrontation, the balance of forces appears to militate against a knockout blow by either side. U.S.-based Iran scholar Farideh Farhi, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, stressed that Ahmadinejad and the Supreme leader may not have the majority of the people behind them, "but they do have support. They also have the resources of the state - both financial and military. So that makes them quite robust."

At the same time, Farhi notes, the opposition coalition includes some very powerful figures from within the regime, who together command the support of a large section of the population. Thus, she warns, "To assume that this will lead ultimately to a victory of one over the other is unrealistic as well as dangerous because it may come at the cost of tremendous violence." More likely, she argues, is the pursuit of some sort of compromise that allows the regime to back down to some extent, without necessarily surrendering.

7:25 AM ET -- Iran parliament speaker pushing for Mousavi television time. Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's parliament, has been an occasional thorn in the side of Khamenei's regime since the election -- he has criticized the beatings of students at Tehran University, acknowledged the majority of Iranians don't trust the election results, and defended demonstrators against charges of "rioting." Larijani's latest, via the NIAC:

According to Tahlile Rooz, the speaker of the parliament is trying set up a time for Mousavi to appear on the state TV and discuss his complaints. One of the members of the committee charged with investigating the election violations said "the biased behavior of [IRIB] has fueled the current situation and some authorities including the speaker of parliament are critical of this [behavior]."

According to this member, "Larijani believes that censorship and taking sides by IRIB does not solve the problems or gain people's trust. Rather, the opposition's voice must also be heard."

7:13 AM ET -- Demonstrations going local. An editor for the Kahylan newspaper notes to Al Jazeera that university students are now returning to their home towns, and bringing demonstrations with them. "In provinces, where people were before gathering in universities, in recent days were are seeing people gathering in main squares."

6:55 AM ET -- Khamenei vows no retreat.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed on Wednesday he would not budge in response to protests over a disputed election that has sparked the biggest street demonstrations since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"I had insisted and will insist on implementing the law on the election issue ... Neither the establishment nor the nation will yield to pressure at any cost," Khamenei said.

Now that riot police and religious militia have regained control of the streets, Iran's hardline leadership seems to be taking a harsher line with its foreign and domestic critics.

6:40 AM ET -- The torture of a 17-year-old in Iran. translates an account that's been circulating among Iranians: "A teenager's story, with graphic photos, of abuse at the hands of Iran's religious paramilitaries, the Basij."

6:30 AM ET -- Iran considering downgrading UK ties. "Iran says it is considering downgrading ties with Britain after days of rising tension over criticism of Iran's disputed presidential election. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was asked about the option of reducing diplomatic relations with London after a Cabinet meeting in Tehran. 'We are studying it,' Mottaki said, according to state television."

Also, via Reuters, Iran's intelligence minister claimed on Wednesday that "some people with British passports were involved in post-election violence in the Islamic Republic."

6:14 AM ET -- Good to be back. And I see on the television that my question to President Obama is giving the cast of Fox & Friends palpitations.

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