Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Khatami travel ban reported, then denied

A semi-official news agency announced that a travel ban had been placed on former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, but the report was denied thirty minutes later by a source close to Khatami.

At 2:55 PM, Fars News, linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, claimed Khatami had been banned from making any trips abroad in an article that refrained from using any honorific such as 'former president,' 'mister,' or even the statesman's religious title of hojjatoleslam.

Fars's claim was promptly denied by Khatami's lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaie, in an interview with the Iranian Labor News Agency which was posted at 3:31 PM. 'You can't easily restrict the travel of individuals,' Tabatabaie told ILNA. 'For this to happen, you need a judicial case to be constituted and then a judiciary decision must be issued. As the reformist government's lawyer, I am not aware of any case or even any accusations against [President Khatami.]'

Fars news wrote:
An intelligence official: 
Mohammad Khatami is subject to a travel ban
Fars News Agency: An intelligence official gave news of a travel ban on Mohammad Khatami, head of the Baran Foundation

According to the political reporter of Fars News Agency, Hojjatoleslam Abbas Amirifar, executive secretary of the Preachers' Society of Tehran, referring his organization's gathering last night, said: Last night at the private meeting of the clerics of the Preachers' Society, this intelligence official gave news of the foreign travel ban on Seyed Mohammad Khatami, head of the Baran Foundation.

He added: In this regard, this official stressed that Khatami recently intended to leave the country.

In an obvious attempt to belittle Khatami, the post simply referred to Khatami as the head of the Baran Foundation. The foundation, whose motto is 'Freedom, growth, and prosperity for Iran,' was created by Khatami after his second term, but is run by Morteza Haji, a former minister of higher education who was briefly arrested after the opposition protest rallies on Ashura Day, December 27, 2009. The foundation's documents were sealed and confiscated by intelligence agents at the time.

The Baran Foundation web site posted an article which denied Khatami had intended to go on a foreign trip.

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