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Rouhani Presser Has Nuclear Accusations, Nothing on Rights or Press Freedom

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- No one can say that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's Friday press conference was too short -- it ran for an hour. It could have been better organized: no one said, at least from the 11 am start time on, that journalists had to sign up to be considered for a question.

But of the questions taken, not a single one concerned or even mentioned human rights, or press freedom in Iran. It was nukes, nukes, nukes. Margaret Warner of PBS quoted Rouhani from the past about continuing to develop in Isfahan; Margaret Brennan of CBS asked about opening facilities up to "put these doubts to rest."

A reporter from Al Mayadeen in Beirut, on the other hand, asked about Iran being sure to continue its support to "resistance in the region," using Hezbollah as his example.

Rouhani's answers several times emphasized: Al Qaeda must leave Syria. He also called the Taliban's views on women outdated. He said he'd brought with him to New York for these four days a representative from Shiraz and one "on behalf of the minority Jewish community of Iran." He said the tone of Obama's speech sounded different, that he wanted the media to be messengers.

One wanted to ask: what about journalists in jail? What about the Iranian Journalists Association? (Rouhani has said such guilds should be able to exist - but what's been done.)

Inner City Press ran back to the UN to get to the day's noon briefing. The read-out of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's meeting with Rouhini said Ban "raised various human rights issues." Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky, what issues? Press freedom?

Nesirky said Ban noted the release of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and urged Rouhani to continue in that way. Apparently nothing on press freedom. Typical of the UN. Watch this site.


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