Date: Apr 15, 2000 [ 0: 0: 0]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 13 Apr 2000 to 14 Apr 2000

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 13 Apr 2000 to 14 Apr 2000
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There are 2 messages totalling 90 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Khatami facing political challenge in secret trial of Jews
2. Check out National Heritage - 1


Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 19:08:35 EDT
Subject: Khatami facing political challenge in secret trial of Jews

Khatami facing political challenge in secret trial of Jews
Iran - Friday, 14 April 2000 - Agence France Presse

TEHRAN, April 14 (AFP) - The trial of 13 Iranian Jews, which has again thrown
the international spotlight on the Islamic republic, could harm President
Mohammad Khatami's plans to improve ties with the rest of the world.

The secret trial, which adjourned after only an hour Thursday and will reopen
in May, seems more and more like a political struggle between pro-Khatami
reformists and conservatives who control the nation's courts.

"The courts -- particulary the revolutionary courts -- are a principal
bastion of conservatives. Khatami has been promising the trial will be fair,
but in reality his manuevering room, like his influence, is marginal," says
political analyst Iradj Rashti.

A revolutionary court in the southern city of Shiraz began trying 10 of the
13 on Thursday, on charges of spying for arch-enemy Israel and endangering
national security. Three are out on bail and not yet facing trial.

Khatami has worked hard since his 1997 election to buff up Iran's image on
the international stage, damaged after the 1979 hostage taking at the US
embassy in the heady days after the Islamic revolution.

He became the first Iranian president to visit Western Europe since the
revolution last year, with high-profile trips to France and Italy.

But his push for political and social reform has been stiffly challenged by
the regime's conservatives, who in addition to the courts control the
nation's police and army as well as the outgoing parliament.

And analysts say the uncertainties surrounding the trial -- a justice
spokesman said Thursday that some of the Jews had confessed, a claim quickly
denied by defence lawyers -- are a threat to Khatami's reform plans.

"His desire for opening up the country is being challenged," Rashti says,
noting that the popular reform president could do nothing to stop the
imprisonment last year of his close ally Abdollah Nuri, jailed on charges of
spreading anti-Islamic propaganda in his now banned newspaper.

"The contradictions and extemporizing surrounding the case -- to the extent
that things remain unclear -- are tarnishing the image of Iran," says
political analyst Khosro Abedi.

Iran's increasingly vocal pro-reform press has accused the conservative-led
courts of trying to sweep the case under the carpet, comparing it to the
still unresolved murders of leading intellectuals and dissidents in 1998.

Even the slightest comment about the case sparks a new round of guesses about
the fate of the 13, who were arrested last year along with eight Muslims who
are to be tried separately.

A justice spokesman said there was ample evidence, for example, that the 13
had made visits to Israel -- illegal for Iranians -- but that the charge had
not been included in the list of accusations against the defendants.

"This kind of remark adds to the general confusion but could also,
paradoxically, be seen a sign that Iran is perhaps a little bit flexible on
the matter," one Western diplomat told AFP.

Spying for Israel or the United States has been punishable by death since the
introduction of a 1996 law, but many of the defendants are apparently facing
a lesser charge of endangering national security, which carries a maximum
10-year prison term.

The international community has been vocal in its criticisms of the case
against the 13, but Iran has rejected those complaints as outside
"interference" in its internal affairs


Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 21:56:07 EDT
Subject: Check out National Heritage - 1

<A HREF="Click">">Click here: National Heritage
- 1</A>


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 13 Apr 2000 to 14 Apr 2000