Daily TIP

Iran sentences Iranian-Americans to 10 years in prison

Posted by Tip Staff - October 18, 2016


Iran sentenced Iranian-American Samiak Namazi and his father Baquer to 10 years in prison on charges of “cooperating with the hostile American government,” the Mizan news agency, which is controlled by the Iranian judiciary, announced Tuesday.
Samiak Namazi, a businessman who advocated for closer ties between the U.S. and Iran, was arrested last year. His lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, told Reuters in February that he had not received permission to meet with his client, and that Namazi was not aware of the charges against him. Baquer, a former UNICEF representative and provincial governor before the Islamic Revolution, was detained in February and also denied access to a lawyer, Baquer’s wife told CBS. Three other people were also named in the conviction announcement: two people identified by the initials F.H.A. and A.A., and Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born American permanent resident. Zakka, an internet freedom activist, disappeared last September after attending a conference in Tehran at the invitation of one of Iran’s vice presidents.
On Monday, a day before the announcement, Mizan released a video that contained the first footage of Siamak Namazi since his arrest, in what the Associated Press called “a taunting challenge to the United States in the wake of the nuclear deal with Tehran.” The footage includes images of detained American sailors on their knees after they were taken prisoner by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in January.
Iran has a history of arresting dual nationals, which it does not recognize, meaning that the individuals cannot receive consular assistance; the number reached six in July, which, according to Reuters, comprised “the highest number of Iranians with dual-nationality detained at one time in recent years to have been acknowledged.” One more dual national, a former member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, was arrested in August. Many analysts believe that Iran is “seeking concessions from the West in exchange for releasing” dual nationals, the Associated Press wrote that month.


UNESCO’s executive board ratified a resolution that denied Jewish and Christian historical ties to Jerusalem on Tuesday, while Mexico announced that it wanted to change its stance on the resolution, for which it voted in favor last Thursday. Haaretz reported that Mexico decided to alter its position “due to the position being offensive and biased against the Jewish people and their historic connection to Israel.” Brazil, which also voted in favor, said that it was supportive of the Mexican statement. On Monday night, Mexico had expressed its intention to trigger another vote on the resolution to register its new stance, but was ultimately pressured not to do so. Mexico “noted for the record that its position on the matter was one of abstention,” The Jerusalem Post reported, although this does not technically change the tally from the vote last week.
In its initial statement, the Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a document reading, “Changing the vote reiterates the recognition that the government of Mexico gives to the undeniable link between the Jewish people and the cultural heritage in East Jerusalem...It also reflects the deep appreciation that this government has for the Jewish community and in particular for its significant contributions to the welfare and economic, social and cultural development of Mexico.”
Mexico’s ambassador to UNESCO Andres Roemer walked out in protest last Thursday against his country’s decision to vote in favor of the text. The Mexican Foreign Ministry said in its statement on Tuesday that he would be replaced as ambassador, and an investigation would be opened “to ascertain and determine the responsibilities of the officials involved in this issue.”


Israel is set to assist Egypt in a series of large-scale economic projects, indicating continuing improved relations between the two countries, Ynetnews reported Tuesday. According to the report, one of the major projects will include the “desalinization of seawater to address concerns over water levels in the Nile River, which could lead to a dramatic shortage of water available for drinking and irrigation.” Israel is a pioneer in desalination and has, according to The New York Times, “become the world leader in recycling and reusing wastewater for agriculture. It treats 86 percent of its domestic wastewater and recycles it for agricultural use — about 55 percent of the total water used for agriculture. Spain is second to Israel, recycling 17 percent of its effluent, while the United States recycles just 1 percent.” Other areas in which the Israelis will lend a hand to the Egyptians are “solar energy, electricity production, agriculture, irrigation and gas.”
Israeli-Egyptian relations have been warming under the leadership of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The two countries share mutual defense concerns, particularly Hamas and ISIS’ Sinai branch, which coordinate activities: Hamas finances ISIS, trains its fighters in planting deadly IEDs and firing lethal anti-tank missiles, and smuggles weaponry across the border from Gaza into Sinai.
A textbook introduced in the spring semester this year by the Egyptian government puts Israeli-Egyptian peace in a much more positive light than previous editions, asking ninth graders to memorize the terms of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 and to explain the “advantages of peace for Egypt and the Arab states.” Previous textbooks would barely mention Israel when referring to the peace treaty. Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said of this development, “We view this as very positive. It is an extremely important demonstration of good will. We hope it will have a positive impact on younger generations as we look ahead at the next years and decades.”
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry defended Israeli policies to a group of high schoolers in Cairo in August and visited Israel the previous month to offer his government’s assistance in restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The visit marked the first time an Egyptian foreign minister had visited Israel since 2007. Also that month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin attended a reception at Egypt’s embassy in Tel Aviv in honor of Egypt’s National Day.


Alon Moreshet is excited about the beta launch of his startup Guiderr, an online platform matching travelers with local tour guides who share their interests. The concept could not have become a reality, he says, without free legal assistance from the IDC Legal Clinic for Start-Ups. The first clinic of its kind in Israel has a unique social twist: It gives priority to social ventures and to entrepreneurs from underserved populations such as new immigrants, women, residents of peripheral areas, minorities (ultra-orthodox Jews, Arabs and Druze) and people from low socio-economic backgrounds. Started two years ago at IDC Herzliya, a private university, the clinic is recruiting its third batch of clients until October 20. Services are provided by 18 selected third-and fourth-year law students under the supervision of attorney Assaf Ben-David. Two partner law firms — Barnea & Co. and Pearl-Cohen — give additional pro-bono assistance if needed. Additional online services soon will include a new mentor program and document templates downloadable for free or at subsidized rates. About a year ago, Moreshet saw a Facebook ad for the clinic’s informational event for early-stage startups. He went and got helpful tips from representatives of six law firms, and then applied for a spot in the clinic. (via Israel21c)

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