Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Jan 2000 to 12 Jan 2000

There are 14 messages totalling 1098 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Reformist candidates protest their rejection by Guardians
2. fyi: Anger over Pinochet decision
3. Iran's ex-president says duped by secret service
4. Australia refuses visa to Iranian porn actress.
5. Iran focuses on soccer amid politics
6. Khamenei's brother attacks reformist purge
7. Jailed Iran students begin hunger strike
8. Khatami's camp hopeful despite ban on candidates
9. Iran visits U.S. for three friendlies, World Cup rematch
10. Iran intelligence chief backs democratic elections
11. In 'Tehrangeles' America's biggest Iranian community serves as a bridge
12. First Iranian-Asian satellite to be launched into orbit in 2000
13. Popular Iranian singer dies
14. Iran conservative says economy key issue in poll

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 10:13:24 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Reformist candidates protest their rejection by Guardians

TEHRAN 10TH Jan. (IPS) Almost all reformist candidates for the next
Iranian Majles (parliament) who have been eliminated by the
conservatives-controlled Council of the Guardians announced Monday their
determination to protest "vigorously" at the decision they denounced as
"illegal and unconstitutional".

Newspapers reported Sunday that the 12-members Council rejected the
candidacy of all known reformist and pro-Khatami candidates.

More than 6000 people participated at the crucial race that is schedules
for 18th February this year and predictions were that the Council of the
Guardians would reject most of those who supports reforms promised by
President Mohammad Khatami.

Half of the watchdog body that wets the candidates are nominated by
ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the lamed leader of the Islamic Republic who, in
his latest remarks, criticised those who accuses the Guardians of
partiality and partisanship.

Among those eliminated by the council are Mrs A'zam Taleqani, Hamid Reza
Jala'ipour, Abbas Abdi, , Ezzatollah Sahhabi, Dr Habibollah Peyman, Dr
Ebrahim Yazdi, Dr.Davoud Hermidas Bavand, Dr Fariborz Ra'is Dana, Hashem
Sabbaqian, Abolfazl Bazargan, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi as well as all
journalists who registered in various cities outside Tehran.

To better eliminate undesirable candidates, the Guardians sat new
regulations that would bar runners who had not meticulously observed
Islam's principles, failed to regularly attend Friday priers or
conservatives-organised ceremonies, have bounced back cheques, organised
parties at their homes, have un-Islamic frequentations, or do not accept
the absolute rule of the ayatollah Kameneh'i as the supreme ruler etc.

According to "Fath" (Victory) that has replaced "Khordad", the influential
daily of hojatoleslam Abdollah Nouri that was forced to close down after
the former Interior Minister was sentenced to five years imprisonment by
the controversial Clergymen's Special Tribunal, all eliminated candidates
have protested to the decision.

Mr. Sahhabi, publisher of Iran e Farda bi-weekly said the removal of his
name was without "acceptable motives".

Mr. Peyman, the leader of the Revolutionary Muslims Movement, called on
the Council to officially explain why he was rejected, saying
religious-nationalist forces would all protest to the decision.

University professor Dr. Hermidas Bavand said he was not surprised at the
decision. "Considering the present atmosphere created by the hard liners,
we had expected to be rejected and if we did registered, it was to better
present to the international opinion and to the world outside the true
visage of the Islamic Republic, a regime that do not even respect its own
constitution, a so-called republic where a bunch of people decide instead
of the people".

Former Editor of the popular daily "Salam", Abdi warned the Guardians that
they should realise that "this road was not a one way street but a
two-ways avenue with the people waiting on the other end to reject them".

The closure of "Salam" in early July on order of ayatollah Khameneh'i led
to the unprecedented protest movement organised by students. The
demonstrations in Tehran and other major cities surprised the authorities
by it's magnitude as it turned into open denunciation of both Mr.
Khameneh'i and the Islamic regime.

It was ruthlessly crushed by Law Enforcement forces supported by Islamic
vigilante known as Ansar Hezbollah, a semi-military organisation formed
and controlled by the conservatives to counter all opponents of the leader.

An investigation committee set by the president found the LEF and the
Islamic vigilante were responsible for the unrest, but while hundreds of
students are still in jail, with some of them condemned to long term jails
and one of them sentenced to death, none of the designated culprits have
been tried so far.

Mr. Jala'ipour, the veteran journalist and publisher of popular and mass
circulation dailies such as Jame'eh (Society), Toos and Neshat, all closed
by the Judiciary invited the Council to announce their decision on the
radio and television waves, saying the councilmen are wrong if they thing
by stopping reformists candidates to enter the sixth Majles they could
create a docile parliament at the mercy of the conservatives.

As for Mrs Taleqani, the daughter of the grand ayatollah Mahmoud Taleqani,
the "red" cleric who played an important role in the Islamic revolution
and publisher of the feminist biweekly "Payam Hajar" told the
conservatives to look back and see the damages they have caused in the
past 20 years and how they have plunged the nation in the abysses.

Most analysts, politicians and MPs, including some conservatives such as
hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the present Speaker have predicted
that the next Majles, the sixth under the Islamic Republic, would be
dominated by independent candidates that, in their great majority,
supports reforms.

Frantically afraid of loosing the control of the powerful Legislative, the
conservatives that have monopolised all powers before the surprise,
landslide victory of the relatively unknown Khatami in the presidential
elections of May 1997 have pinned their hope on the ayatollah Ali Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who, as the "spiritual leader" of
the "Servants of Reconstruction Party" that has ministers in Mr. Khatami's
coalition government, jockeys between hard liners and reformists.

The Guardians Council has rejected qualification of 71 out of 985
candidates who have applied for running in the sixth parliamentary
elections, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Official with Tehran governor general's office Ibrahim Rezaei Babadi said
the executive board had already disqualified 41 other applicants and the
number of those barred from running in the elections in Tehran
constituency has reached 112.

He said 1,270 people had nominated themselves in Tehran province and only
one member of parliament (MP) in the current legislative body from Tehran
has been disqualified by the Guardians Council.

IRNA did not name the eliminated MP.

Babadi expressed reservation about disqualification of the candidates by
the guardians council and hoped that the guardians council would review
against the applications turned down today, IRNA added.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 11:06:20 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: fyi: Anger over Pinochet decision

Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 06:22 GMT
Anger over Pinochet decision

Human rights campaigners have condemned UK
Home Secretary Jack Straw's decision that former
Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet is too ill to
stand trial on torture charges in Spain.

But the move has been welcomed by the Chilean
government and the general's supporters.

Mr Straw says he is "minded" to release
General Pinochet in seven days after accepting
medical advice that he is not fit to be extradited.

The Home Office said the "unequivocal and
unanimous" conclusion of a four-strong medical team
who examined the 84-year-old general on 5 January
was that he was "at present unfit to stand trial, and that
no change to that position can be expected".

It added: "In the circumstances,
the Secretary of State is minded ...
to take the view that no purpose
would be served by continuing the
present extradition proceedings
and that he should therefore
decide not to extradite Senator Pinochet."

Mr Straw's decision to release General Pinochet is
subject to representations by Spain and other
interested parties within the next seven days.

But the general has refused to allow Spain or other
countries with outstanding extradition requests to see
the medical reports, making it difficult for them to
challenge Mr Straw's preliminary decision to release
him.

if, as seems likely, Mr Straw still feels the general is too
ill to be extradited, at the end of the seven days he will
be free to go back to Chile.


BBC Madrid correspondent Daniel Schweimler says the
Spanish Government will be relieved as the case has
damaged its previous good relations with Chile.

The Chilean Government released a short statement
saying the decision mconfirmed its long-held
view that General Pinochet was too ill to stand trial.

Baroness Thatcher, who has campaigned for General
Pinochet's release since his arrest in London in 1998,
said: "I would trust the home secretary's judgement.
He is a very fair man."

Another supporter, former Conservative Chancellor
Lord Lamont, welcomed the decision but added that it
was "long overdue".

"It has never been in the interests of justice that
General Pinochet should be tried in Europe - this has
always been a matter for Chile," he said.

"It has never been in the interests of justice that
General Pinochet should be tried in Europe - this has
always been a matter for Chile," he said.


The surprise announcement came after
initial medical reports showed that the former
Chilean head of state was fit to stand trial.

The new tests were ordered after Chile
appealed for General mPinochet to be sent home
as his health was said to be mdeteriorating. He is said to
have suffered a series of strokes and has diabetes.

The general underwent seven hours of medical
examination at Northwick Park Hospital in London by
neurologists and neuropsychologists.

He was excused attending last October's hearing, at
which magistrates sanctioned his extradition to Spain
to face charges of torturing Spanish citizens in Chile
during his rule, on the grounds of ill health.

However, that was on the basis of medical reports from
General Pinochet's own doctors.

Campaigners for his extradition have already
called for a judicial review of any decision to halt
proceedings.

Helen Banber, director of the Medical Foundation for
the Care of Victims of Torture, said: "Any
decision by Jack Straw to release General Pinochet
on health grounds should be subject to immediate
judicial review.

"Until such a process takes place and the medical
evidence examined in court, he should be extradited to
face trial in Spain."

Luis Machiavello, of Chile's Families of the
Disappeared, said General Pinochet should still stand
trial.

"I think General Pinochet is mentally fit to stand trial to
answer the charges he needs to answer," he told BBC
News 24.

Mr Straw's decision comes shortly after the
controversy over his handling of the case of Konrad
Kalejs, the suspected Nazi war criminal.

Mr Kalejs, who was exposed as living in a retirement
home in Leicestershire, left Britain voluntarily after Mr
Straw declared there was not enough evidence to
detain him in the UK.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 21:57:36 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran's ex-president says duped by secret service

TEHRAN, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Iran's former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
was
quoted on Monday as saying he had been kept in the dark about certain
operations of the secret service during his tenure, including a case of arms
smuggling.

Rafsanjani, who stepped down as president in 1997 after two terms, was
referring to a band of renegade senior intelligence officials implicated in
the
murder more than a year ago of several dissidents and liberal intellectuals.

The group's leader, Saeed Emami, was later said to have committed suicide in
prison. He had served in the security apparatus since the 1979 Islamic
Revolution and was promoted to the rank of deputy minister before being
arrested last year.

The authorities said the renegades had been plotting to cause tension at home
and muddy the Islamic republic's image abroad, something Rafsanjani says flew
in the face of his own policies.

``Speaking of Emami's gang, it became known to us that they were opposed to
(my) policy of detente. They took missiles to a foreign country, which were
discovered there,'' he said in an interview with Hamshahri newspaper, without
giving names or other details.

``We investigated the case...They were punished for lack of discipline and
Emami was apparently demoted to a post as adviser.''

Western countries have often accused Iran of secretly shipping weapons to
alleged terrorist organisations or states. Tehran has always denied the
charges.

The once-dreaded intelligence apparatus has in the past year been somewhat
reformed under moderate President Mohammad Khatami but it remains a powerful
force in its own right.

DISSIDENTS TARGETED

Rafsanjani, who now heads an influential state body, said he was also kept in
the dark about the disappearance for weeks of dissident Iranian journalist
Faraj Sarkouhi.

Sarkouhi said after reappearing that he had been seized by secret agents on
his
way to Germany. The intelligence ministry denied detaining him, insisting that
Sarkouhi had spent the time in Germany.

``I asked for explanation from the intelligence ministry and they showed me a
letter to prove Sarkouhi was in Germany on his own free will,'' Rafsanjani
said.

``It should be investigated whether or not they were lying. But when they gave
me the letter, it became evident to me that Sarkouhi was in Germany.''

Iranian moderates are pressing for an investigation into the past
activities of
the secret service, including its possible detention of Sarkouhi.

In November, Iran's parliament launched a widespread probe into political
murders in the country.

Some of the reformers close to Khatami have put the number of murders of
dissidents at more than 80 over the past decade.

Rafsanjani also said he had to deal with ``financial excesses'' by the
intelligence ministry, which he said was behind weapons purchases during the
1980-1988 war with Iraq, when Iran was subjected to an international arms
embargo.

``During the war we needed to buy weapons on the black market. Ordinary
companies could not do it, so the intelligence ministry was allowed to use its
own companies as a front.

``But I learned towards the end of my presidency they had gone to extremes. So
we reduced their financial operations.''

Under Rafsasanjani, the ministry was authorised to engage in business on the
side to finance its operations. Last month, Iran's parliament banned the
secret service from doing business.

01-10-00

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 21:58:20 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Australia refuses visa to Iranian porn actress.

Australia refuses visa to Iranian porn actress.

01/12/2000

SYDNEY, Jan 12 (Reuters) - An Iranian woman who appeared in soft-porn
movies was refused an Australian protection visa on Wednesday despite
her fears of persecution in Iran because of roles in X-rated movies.


The Australian Associated Press (AAP) national news agency reported
that Fatemeh Moradgholi, 42, told the court she believed she faced
persecution in Iran because of her involvement in pornography and
adultery, and previous convictions for counter-revolutionary activity.


But the Federal Court in Sydney upheld an earlier decision by the
Refugee Review Tribunal to refuse Moradgholi the protection visa
because she had not been "hotly pursued" any more than other members of
the Iranian community.


"In support, the RRT referred to evidence that (Moradgholi) had, over
significant periods of time... engaged in four forms of activity
illegal under the laws of Iran without detection," AAP quoted Justice
Kevin Lindgren as telling the court.


The illegal activity in Iran included selling alcohol, having a sexual
relationship with a married man, renting out X-rated videos and
performing in X-rated videos, the review body said.


In the movies she took off her outer clothes but kept her undergarments
on and did not touch and was not touched by anyone.


Moradgholi fled to Australia after her home was raided in September
1998 and videos she was renting out, including X-rated videos, were
found.

(LOL! how can it be porno if there was no nudity? A 42-year old porn
actress - YIKES!)


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:14:25 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran focuses on soccer amid politics

Iran focuses on soccer amid politics

Copyright 2000 Nando Media Copyright 2000 Agence France-Press

By Lawrence Kootnikoff

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (January 12, 2000 9:47 a.m. EST
http://www.sportserver.com) - The Iranian national team said Tuesday it
will leave politics to governments when it takes the field this weekend
in its first match against the United States on US soil.

The Iranians kick off Sunday against the Americans in the Rose Bowl,
site of the 1994 World Cup final, following a Wednesday match against
Ecuador in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

"We don't want the game to be seen as political," midfielder Mohammad
Khakpoor told a news conference here Tuesday.

"The political issue is mostly brought up by the press. We are here to
play games and be a representative of the Iranian people," said
Khakpoor, 30, who plays in for the New York-New Jersey Metrostars of
Major League Soccer.

Politics overshadowed the last match the two countries played -- in the
1998 World Cup in France, when Iran beat the United States 2-1.

Relations between Washington and Iran were ruptured in 1979 by the rise
to power of an Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran, and the taking of
US hostages in Tehran.

The Iranians are expected to have strong support in the stands from
members of this area's 700,000-strong Iranian community, both against
Ecuador and the United States.

"It is really wonderful to be greeted" by members of the Iranian
community, coach Jalal Talebi said. "There is a lot of warmth."

But they will have to face the American side without their best player.

Midfielder Karim Bagheri, 24, did not come with the team for its
three-game tour of the United States, and was not on hand when Iran lost
to Mexico 2-1 on Sunday in Oakland.

Bagheri, who plays for Arminia in the German league, was kept off the
team for "family reasons," coach Jalal Talebi said.

While the two countries are moving slowly toward normalizing relations,
the United States maintains an economic embargo against Iran, and
accuses Tehran of abetting international terrorism.

The Iranian team had to stop in Frankfurt, Germany, on January 5 to pick
up US visas, because the two countries do not have diplomatic relations.

Iran agreed to the trip only after the State Department and the US
Soccer Federation assured them the delegation would not have to be
fingerprinted to get visas. US immigration officials often fingerprint
Iranians entering the United States.

The only other top-level sporting exchanges involving visits between the
two countries since 1979 have been wrestling competitions.

Sunday's game will be televised by the ESPN cable sports channel in the
United States, and Iranian television.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:17:46 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Khamenei's brother attacks reformist purge

By Jim Muir in Iran

The brother of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, has
criticised the disqualification of reformist candidates for the general
elections by a vetting commission dominated by conservatives.

Hadi Khamenei is himself a member of the reformist camp, while the
Ayatollah is generally regarded as tending towards the right.

His criticism came as a leading conservative figure predicted that his
faction would continue to dominate parliament after next month's
elections.

It is one of the more bizarre manifestations of Iran's clerical
democracy that the country's supreme leader has a politically active
brother, who has often stridently expressed views that are the reverse
of the Ayatollah's.

Only last Saturday, Ayatolla Khamenei rebuked people who had publicly
criticised the election vetting process.

Most of the accusations had been levelled by the reformists against the
Council of Guardians, the conservative-dominated body which has overall
supervision of the elections.

Distorting democracy

Now Hadi Khamenei, has gone against the wishes of the supreme leader by
again hitting out in public at the council's disqualification of
reformist candidates.

Addressing students at a Tehran university, he said the
disqualifications of reformist candidates were distorting the nation's
vote and Iranian democracy.

The methods used to evaluate the candidates were, he said, improper and
unacceptable.

Nonetheless, he said he did believe that enough reformist candidates had
survived the scrutiny to ensure a majority in the new parliament.

New faces, new policies

That assessment was certainly not shared by the head of a right-wing
coalition, Mohammad Reza Bahonar.

He told reporters that he expected the balance within the new Majlis
(parliament) to be similar to that of the outgoing one, in which the
conservatives, helped by independents, form a majority.

But he did expect a large influx of new faces, with new policies and
ideas, to meet the demands of the huge new generation of young Iranians.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:17:15 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Jailed Iran students begin hunger strike

Jailed Iran students begin hunger strike - paper 01:17 p.m Jan 12, 2000
Eastern

TEHRAN, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Several Iranian students jailed for their
alleged role in widespread unrest in July have gone on hunger strike, a
newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Among the strikers is 22-year-old Ahmad Batebi, sentenced to 10 years in
prison for engaging in propaganda against the state, the reformist
Sobh-e Emrouz newspaper said.

Photographs of Batebi holding up a bloody shirt, which apparently
belonged to a student friend who had been severely beaten in an attack
on dormitories by police and hardline vigilantes, were widely used in
Western media.

The students went on hunger strike to protest against being locked up in
cells with murderers and drug traffickers, the newspaper said.

In December, a pro-reform student group said Batebi had been convicted
of charges which usually carry the death sentence. But Batebi's lawyer
was later quoted as saying the Supreme Court had approved a 10-year jail
sentence for his client.

The unrest in Tehran and several other cities last July was the worst in
Iran since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

More than 1,500 pro-democracy students were arrested in Tehran and the
northwestern city of Tabriz. Many received heavy sentences.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:20:52 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Khatami's camp hopeful despite ban on candidates

http://www.ft.com/nbearchive/email-ftibwcq31e5ba.htm
Khatami's camp hopeful despite ban on candidates By Guy Dinmore in
Tehran

Iran's conservative-dominated Guardian Council was on Monday reported to
have disqualified dozens of reformist candidates from taking part in
next month's parliamentary elections on political and religious grounds.

But members of the loose coalition backing Mohammad Khatami, the
moderate president, said far fewer of their members had been ruled out
than feared, and they still hoped to overturn the conservative-held
majority in the February 18 polls.

The Guardian Council, a body of six clerics and six legal experts, vets
candidates for their adherence to Islamic principles and Iran's
constitution as well as their acceptance of the absolute rule of the
country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The council was due to finish its deliberations on the 6,860 applicants
seeking to contest the 290 seats in the new Majlis (parliament) last
Friday.

It has made no public statement but reformist newspapers reported that
more than 50 candidates had been rejected.

They included Abdollah Nouri, a cleric and former interior minister
jailed in November; Ebrahim Yazdi, head of the nationalist-Islamist Iran
Liberation Movement; and Abbas Abdi, famous for leading the seizure of
the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 but now an outspoken advocate of
reforms.

Hamidreza Jalaeipour, publisher of Asr-e-Azadegan, a reformist daily,
said the council told him he was disqualified for a weak commitment to
Islam and the Islamic republic and the principle of the absolute rule of
the supreme leader. Under a new law, the council must explain in writing
its reasons for rejecting each applicant, who can also appeal against
the decision.

But Mr Jalaeipour told the Financial Times that, to reformists' surprise
and compared with previous elections, the vetting appears to have been
limited.

"All the reformists are happy, not angry. Khatami is happy because they
expected more would be disqualified," he said, predicting that
"conservative" forces would secure only a small minority in the crucial
elections.

Faezeh Hashemi, a reformist MP seeking re-election, said the numbers of
those disqualified were lower than reported.

"I know many things but cannot tell you," she told the FT when asked for
her source of information.

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's previous president and Ms Hashemi's
father, is also standing as a candidate.

Ms Hashemi said the 18 groups making up the reformist or leftist
coalition were still negotiating over a common list of candidates for
the polls.

She dismissed speculation in the Iranian media that the hardliners would
seek to stage a coup to block a reformist-dominated parliament.

Analysts point out that even if the conservative establishment loses its
grip on parliament it will still hold important levers of power,
including the security forces, the judiciary and large segments of the
economy.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:23:44 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran visits U.S. for three friendlies, World Cup rematch

Posted: Saturday January 08, 2000 01:54 PM

OAKLAND, California (Reuters) -- For all the history of bitter relations
between the two countries, the Iranian national soccer team's visit to
the United States has been decidedly low-key.

The Iranian players mill casually about the lobby of the Marriott Hotel
in this northern California city where they remain when not training at
the nearby Oakland Coliseum.

Friends and relatives come and go, for there are approximately 200,000
people of Iranian descent living in this area, and each player seems to
have at least a handful of well-wishers on hand.

The Iranians open a three-game tour on Sunday at the Coliseum against
Mexico, a nation they have never faced in soccer, then travel to Los
Angeles for a game Wednesday against Ecuador.

The tour culminates January 16 at the Rose Bowl in a rematch of a
U.S.-Iran meeting 18 months ago at the World Cup in France, which Iran
won 2-1. Both teams were later given the FIFA Fair Play Award for that
politically charged match.

A week in advance of the match at the Rose Bowl, 35,000 tickets have
already been sold. Southern California is the home of about a
half-million people of Iranian descent.

Iran's visit had to be funneled through several U.S. governmental
agencies for approval.

The visit had been in the works since last spring, but a proposed match
last June had to be scrapped while the U.S. State Department and
Department of Justice cleared the way bureaucratically and politically
for a team from a country which has no official diplomatic links with
the United States.

"There is nothing of a problem between the American and Iranian people,"
said team technical director Jalal Talebi, who lived in northern
California for 18 years and was the head coach at France '98.

"It is between the governments, and I believe these disputes are behind
us."

Acrimony between the two governments began with the 1979 Islamic
revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed regime of Shah Mohammad Reza
Pahlavi. The United States severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 1980
after militant students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 52
Americans hostage for 444 days.

Only when Iranian wrestling teams were cleared to visit the United
States in the 1990s did the sporting frost begin to thaw.

A dispute over the policy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to
fingerprint every Iranian national entering the United States threw the
tour in doubt last month. A compromise was worked out, and members of
the Iranian party were not fingerprinted Wednesday when their plane
landed in Chicago for passport checks and clearance of customs.

The party arrived in Oakland Wednesday night, and more than 250 fans
were on hand at the airport to greet them. The players and coaches were
taken through an alternative gate to avoid the fans, and their bus to
the hotel was escorted by a fleet of police motorcycles.

More than a dozen journalists for publications and broadcast stations
serving the Iranian community are covering the team's visit. The hotel
lobby sometimes becomes a studio as TV crews converge on players to
record sound bites.

For some reason, the team's luggage did not arrive until the following
night, and so soccer shoes and jerseys had to be borrowed from local
merchants for a training session on Thursday afternoon.

The team will be sequestered at night on a single floor of the hotel and
two bodyguards will be on duty at all times. The hotel will be under
surveillance by the U.S. Secret Service, and the Oakland City Police
Department has been alerted.

But for the most part, the Iranian visit resembles those of the National
Football League or National Basketball Association teams that often stay
here rather than one from a country which once labelled the United
States "the Great Satan.

Head coach Mansour Pourhaidari said: "This is much more of an issue for
the media than it is for me and my players."

Iran has brought nine France '98 veterans, including six starters.

Since France '98, striker Ali Daei has played for Bayern Munich and now
plays for Hertha Berlin, and forward Mehti Mahdavakia has emerged as a
star since moving to Hamburg from relegated Bochum last summer.

But Pourhaidari has played down the importance of results on this tour.

"The hope is at this tournament that the foreign-based players come here
and get good practice with the players who play within the country,"
said Pourhaidari, who took over from Talebi as head coach after the
World Cup and led Iran to the Asian Games soccer championship in
Thailand in December, 1998.

"We are happy to play against three strong teams, to measure our
strength and our weaknesses as we prepare for the Asian Championships
and World Cup qualifying."

Iran traveled to Canada last June to play in the Canada Cup tournament,
in which they posted a win and two draws. They have not won a match
since, having tied Japan 1-1 and Denmark 0-0 in friendlies last year.

Pourhaidari admits this tour extends beyond goals and points.

"Sports can narrow the gap between countries," he said, "and we are also
happy to help this process."

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:20:11 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran intelligence chief backs democratic elections

Iran intelligence chief backs democratic elections 04:38 a.m. Jan 12,
2000 Eastern

By Jonathan Lyons

TEHRAN, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Iran's powerful intelligence chief has said
the people, not the secret service, should assess candidates for next
month's parliamentary elections and determine the fate of the nation.

Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi, appointed last February in the wake of
the ``mystery murders'' of dissidents by rogue agents, told Entekhab
newspaper his agency had exercised unprecedented restraint in vetting
candidates for the February 18 poll.

``We must allow the people to be completely involved to determine their
future, and we must not be afraid of the possibility of one or two
people getting into parliament by mistake,'' he said in an interview
published on Wednesday.

Under Iran's election laws, the intelligence ministry, the police and
other agencies must approve candidates to elected office -- essentially
giving them veto power. The hardline Guardian Council then makes the
final ruling.

AGGRESSIVE VETTING OF CANDIDATES

In recent years, conservatives have used this vetting power aggressively
to bar reformers from standing for office, often by accusing them of
lack of faith in Islam, the Islamic system or the principle of supreme
clerical rule.

In the run-up to next month's election, some prominent reformers and
sitting MPs have also been banned. Moderate President Mohammad Khatami's
faction lost 90 of 290 candidates, but the group's leaders said they had
expected far worse.

Yunesi said his ministry used its right to disqualify three to four
percent of the record 6,800 hopefuls, a fraction of the 12 percent it
banned from the last parliamentary elections four years ago. Other state
bodies barred additional candidates.

The final candidate list will not be available until the Guardian
Council, dominated by conservative clerics, rules on all outstanding
appeals -- sometime around the end of the month.

With a number of top reformist icons, including dissident cleric
Abdollah Nouri, deemed ineligible, concerns are increasing that voters
may stay home in silent protest.

Such an outcome could undermine the Islamic republic, Yunesi said.

DANGERS OF APATHY

``The danger of these people getting into parliament is much less than
that of the people not taking part in the elections,'' he said.

``The ill effect of decreased public participation is much greater than
the effect of the presence of certain people in parliament. Not paying
attention to the people is very dangerous,'' said Yunesi, a mid-ranking
Shi'ite Moslem cleric.

He also pledged to continue efforts to reform the ministry, seen by many
Iranians as a power unto itself with little or no oversight by the
president or parliament.

``The intelligence ministry is determined to restructure itself to
conform to the new situation....In reality the intelligence ministry is
more than happy to change and reform.''

Yunesi was appointed last February after his predecessor was forced out
over the ``mystery murders'' scandal, in which elements of the secret
service were identified as having carried out the killings of
intellectuals and dissident politicians.

The murders shocked the nation and produced fierce calls for wholesale
reform of the secret service, but promised trials for those implicated
have yet to be held.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:18:14 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: In 'Tehrangeles' America's biggest Iranian community serves as a bridge

By TESSIE BORDEN Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- As the Iranian popular singer Siavash took the stage
at the foot of the Hollywood Hills, tiny pinpoints illuminated a
darkened concert hall crowded with Iranian teen-agers. It wasn't
lighters they were holding up -- it was cellphones.

Half a world away, dozens of their relatives gathered in their homes and
listened to the call on speaker phones, the percussion-heavy Eastern
beats of an emerging Iranian music industry filling the room. Daring for
conservative Iran, the free-wheeling sounds tied them to a city they
have nicknamed "Tehrangeles."

In the generation since the Iranian revolution overthrew the
U.S.-supported Shah, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have settled in
Southern California, cobbling together a community as hard-working as it
is eclectic. They are flexing newfound power as they make Los Angeles
their largest community outside Iran and help influence some of the most
profound changes there since 1979.

The community is in the spotlight as Iran's soccer team visits this week
in its first trip to the United States since the revolution. It plays
the U.S. team Sunday at the Rose Bowl.

"They have a word in Persian, 'do-hava'," said Sanam Ansari, president
of the Iranian Students Group at the University of California, Los
Angeles. "It means 'two-weathered.' You're not completely American and
not completely Iranian."

Along Westwood Boulevard and in the San Fernando Valley, signs in
Farsi's delicate, cursive script advertise Persian rug merchants,
restaurants serving a staple rice-and-meat dish called chello kebab and
grocery stores stocking biryani paste, lavash bread and halva, a nougat
made with sesame seeds.

In Studio City, the young spend weekend nights dancing to Persian and
American pop at Cabaret Tehran. In Irvine, thousands gather to celebrate
the Persian new year.

The pull from Iran remains, though. Students here followed last July's
clashes in Tehran between student protesters and Islamic hard-liners
through e-mail and cellphone.

In Iran, youths get a taste of Los Angeles, Iranian-style, through
music, which makes its way from Southern California.

"They love anything that's American," Ansari said.

The community in Southern California numbers as many as 600,000, with
most living in Los Angeles and neighboring Orange County. It's eclectic
in faith and profession. While the majority are Muslims, Jews and Bahai
figure prominently in the community, although their exact numbers are
not known.

But soccer, known in Iran and elsewhere as football, brings them
together.

The Iranian team faces Ecuador on Wednesday at the Coliseum and then
plays the rematch against the United States.

Tickets for the Rose Bowl game are selling briskly. Almost 40,000 were
sold before Christmas, many of them to Iranians, U.S. soccer federation
officials said.

"When the national team comes from your motherland, it touches you,"
said Shayan Afshar, who works at the Ketab Bookstore in Westwood. "You
may not be able to define it, but it's significant."

Enthusiasm for the game grew out of the teams' June 1998 World Cup
meeting, when players exchanged flowers and jerseys. After the Iranians'
2-1 victory, celebrations in Iran went on for days and signaled
political defiance of the Islamic regime as women took off head scarves
and mingled with men. Similar boisterous celebrations took place even
earlier when Iran unexpectedly qualified for the World Cup.

"Some people called it the Football Revolution," said Nayereh Tohidi,
who teaches at California State University-Northridge.

The soccer federation originally planned this week's game on the East
Coast to give Iranian players a shorter trip. But the response in Los
Angeles was so intense that officials changed their minds. Spokesman Jim
Moorhouse said Iranian media have flooded the federation with credential
requests.

In politics, too, the community has begun to emerge, fielding its own
candidates for public office.

Maziar Mafi, of Laguna Niguel, is a Democratic candidate for Congress in
a district held by powerful Republican Christopher Cox. In state
government, Sara Amir is running for a West Los Angeles district of the
California Assembly under the Green Party.

Neither candidate is expected to win. But Amir says she has moved
Iranians to action here and in her home country.

When she first entered politics two years ago as a Green Party candidate
in the lieutenant governor race, she organized voter registration
drives, bringing dozens of Iranian-Americans to the polls.

Her campaign speeches, meanwhile, were broadcast to Iran by the BBC and
the Voice of America, inspiring activists there, she said.

"I have heard so many comments from people there," Amir said. "They were
saying, 'You're giving us hope. We know that you're one of us.' I'm
running here and I get all these nice e-mails from Iran."

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:38:04 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: First Iranian-Asian satellite to be launched into orbit in 2000

First Iranian-Asian satellite to be launched into orbit in 2000
Hamedan, Jan. 12, IRNA -- Iran's deputy managing director of the center for
distance measurement Ahmad Talebzadeh here Tuesday said the first
multilateral duty research satellite made by Iran and five other Asian
countries will be launched into orbit by mid 2000.

Talebzadeh added Iran is responsible for making the communication and
telescope systems of the satellite with a cost of more than $10 million.

He said that Iran is already using Zohrreh, Mesbah, and Sina
communication satellites; however it is the first time Iran is involved
in the making of a multi-purpose research satellite.

Talebzadeh referred to United Nations regional cooperation as having
provided the necessary opportunity and means in making of the satellite.

The manufacturing and launching of the satellite is estimated to around
$40 million. the satellite will be launched from China and will be set
at 800 kilometers from the earth's orbit. besides Iran, other five Asian
countries involved in the manufacturing of the satellite are: China,
South Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Mangolia.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:43:00 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Popular Iranian singer dies

One of most popular singers in Iran, Moluk Zarrabi, has died in Tehran.

She was more than one hundred years old.

She was one of the first professional female Iranian singers to sing in
public and her career paved the way for hundreds of other female singers
in Iran.

Moluk Zarrabi started singing and playing in bands which performed
traditional and religious music at private and public ceremonies.

She later attracted millions of listeners on Iranian Radio.

But after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the broadcasting of female
voices was banned from Iranian radio and television.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 22:43:28 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran conservative says economy key issue in poll

Iran conservative says economy key issue in poll 08:47 a.m. Jan 12, 2000
Eastern

By Ali Raiss-Tousi

TEHRAN, Jan 12 (Reuters) - A leading Iranian conservative urged his
allies on Wednesday to focus on economic and social realities in next
month's general election as he rallied support for a ticket led by
former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

``The people are not interested in political disputes,'' said
Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, spokesman of a newly formed alliance of a dozen
conservative groups to contest the elections.

``They are more concerned with inflation, unemployment, education and
health issues.''

The alliance announced last month that its list of candidates would be
topped by Rafsanjani, a pragmatic Shi'ite Moslem cleric closely
identified with Iran's reconstruction after the 1980-1988 war with
neighbouring Iraq.

``In our revisions we must take into account issues which are good and
effective and those issues the people care about,'' Bahonar told a news
conference.

The alliance hopes to capitalise on widespread discontent about economic
hardship to defeat moderate President Mohammad Khatami's reformist
allies, who give priority to greater political and social liberties.

Rivalry between the two sides has gathered pace ahead of the February 18
election, which could determine the fate of Khatami's promised reforms.

Bahonar said the alliance had agreed on a list of 160 common candidates
throughout Iran. At the top is Rafsanjani, a leader of Iran's most
influential conservative clerical faction.

The alliance calls itself the ``Followers of the Path of the Imam and
the Leader'' to underline its loyalty to late revolutionary leader
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
and to set themselves apart from Khatami's allies.

Iran's political landscape has become increasingly polarised between the
president's supporters and the hardliners rallying around Khamenei.

Although some conservatives appear to have slightly softened their
stance against reform since their poor showing in the 1997 election, won
by Khatami in a landslide, and last year's municipal polls, they remain
firm on their principles.

Bahonar said last month his camp supported a slow move towards a market
economy to avoid greater hardship to the poor.

On cultural issues he echoed concerns by fellow conservatives who see
Khatami's reforms as a threat to Iran's Islamic system.

Khatami's allies hope to use his popularity to unseat the conservative
majority from parliament and give impetus to his promised reforms.

The general mood in favour of reform has also prompted some rightist
politicians to run as independents in the hope of gaining votes. Most
are gravitating towards Rafsanjani, hoping his political standing will
help them to win support.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Jan 2000 to 12 Jan 2000