The Week in Review: February 7th – February 14th

As the election campaign in Iran got underway, accusations that the government was trying to silence journalists ahead of the parliamentary elections were made by the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

The Center claimed that the intelligence arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had been summoning journalists, raiding their homes and taking their electronic devices, to stifle any criticism of the controversial elections. Thousands of moderate and conservative candidates were barred from running after the hardline Guardian Council rejected their applications in favor of hardline nominees.

Iranian anti-government hacking group Tapandegan, published sensitive information highlighting what it said was mass corruption inside Iran’s Ministry of Health. The four documents, which appear to have been taken from the Ministry’s intranet, were uploaded to Telegram.

The group sent the documents and a statement about the cyber hack to this newspaper’s managing editor. In the statement, the group called on the media for support, saying, “We, Iranian people, consider you journalists outside Iran our only free voice to [allow everyone to hear] our suffering and protests.”

Tapandegan first came to the Western media’s attention when the hackers disrupted the communication systems at Mashhad International Airport in 2018 to stream images of anti-government protests.

Claims that Iran’s reformist President, Hassan Rouhani, was due to step down from his position were dismissed by the Iranian government. Pro-Rouhani news outlets blamed Alireza Zakani, a conservative former lawmaker with close ties to the IRGC, for the rumor.

The claims were traced back to a meeting held by conservatives last week in Tehran. During the meeting, Zakani said, “The government is seeking to negotiate with [U.S. President Donald] Trump … And if they fail to do so, the president will step down.” Zakani claimed his comment stemmed from a conversation with a government official working for Rouhani.

Returning from a trip to Iran, Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Vice-President of the European Commission, briefed the European Parliament Wednesday on updates relating to the Iranian government.

Borrel said the conference was an opportunity “to keep EP [the European Parliament] updated on the EU’s action in the world and have valuable MEP [Members of the European Union] input,” in a tweet posted on the same day as the meeting.

Students at Iran’s Yazd university staged a peaceful protest on Monday. The students were drawing attention to the poor hygiene and quality of the food at the university, which had left several people ill. In a show of protest, the students collected their food, and then placed their trays on the floor of the university canteen.

And Facebook announced it had caught trolls in Iran trying to sway U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters through online propaganda. Facebook said the fake accounts posted “news” about U.S. elections, Christianity, U.S. immigration policy, and U.S.-Iran relations.

  • A staggering 90% of female reporters in Iran said they had experienced sexual harassment while on the job.
    → Link to source
  • France criticized Iran for launching a satellite, saying the move would only increase tensions in the region and abroad.
    → Link to source
  • Tourists who may be carrying the Coronavirus have been quarantined in Central Iran.
    → Link to source.
  • And the British Museum invited Fereydoun Ave to be a key speaker at an event focusing on his art work.
    →  Link to source.