Thursday 28 May 2015

Majlis's Tavakoli Says there Is No Freedom in Iran

Rooz Online

Ahmad Tavakoli is a hardline conservative member of Iran’s Majlis and the managing director of Alef website who has been sued by members of the previous administration, the current administration and also Tehran’s public prosecutor. The press jury has found him to be a criminal on charges of “insulting senior regime authorities,” “insults to judges,” and “publication of falsehoods.”

After the first court session Tavakoli had said he would be released because he had “not committed any violations. After the third court hearing he told the press, “If there was freedom I would not be here now.” According to the MP, “They (the public prosecutor) present the position of the head of the judiciary to be above criticism. This is not right because no person in the country is above criticism.”

About two weeks ago Tavakoli announced in the Majlis that there were 54 law suits against him for events between 2010 and 2013, adding that the court was investigating 9 specific lawsuits. He said that Tehran’s office of the public prosecutor had charged him with “engaging in propaganda against the Islamic republic, publication of falsehoods and insulting state authorities.”

During the first court session, Hamid Baghai, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai and Ali Akbar Javanfekr – all senior members of Ahmadinejad’s administration - withdrew their lawsuit.

Reza Salehi Amiri, the current head of Iran’s national library appointed by Hassan Rouhani, did not get the Majlis votes to become the minister of sports affairs. At the time Tavakoli had written to other MPs that Salehi Amiri had a security and questionable background and accused him of financial embezzlement. Hardline websites reported then that Tavakoli’s letter had resulted in 20 to 30 Majlis representatives voting negatively for his candidacy. During yesterday’s court session, Tavakoli said that he had not intended to insult Amiri in his letter and then apologized to him.

This is not the first time that Tavakoli is being summoned by a court because of his work at Alef website. In 2012 his website was blocked on orders of Tehran’s prosecutor. Some other media outlets at the time had said that the closure of the site was because Alef had published letters from the public criticizing the Larijani brothers (one of them heads the Majlis, the other the Judiciary, and others hold other top positions in the state).

In the beginning of the current Majlis some MPs had criticized Tavakoli and accused him of presenting a fake educational degree and voted against him. Others accused him of unlawfully receiving state scholarships. Another issue against him was the accusation that he had unlawfully received 3,000 square meters of land. Later, when it was revealed that two of the acts for which Tavakoli was questioned were actually ordered by supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei. After this revelation, opposition to his membership in the Majlis and criticism against him stopped.

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