On Iran’s death sentence against academic

The Globe and Mail

Nov. 8 quotes Saeed Rahnema, an expert on Iran who teaches political science at York University, about Iran condemning to death Iranian academic Hashem Aghajari for questioning the absolute right of religious leaders to rule Iran: “The process is that at first they give a harsh sentence, but then they reduce it to hide the fact that this fellow should not have been condemned at all. The message [to others] is, ‘Don’t ask for any reform; shut up or we will kill you.’ ” Rahnema said Aghajari’s trial is indicative of the nature of opposition in Iran today. Having eliminated the nationalists, the leftists and most other groups of opponents, the hardline regime is left fighting against fellow Islamists who are de facto reformers. He predicted the regime would be careful in its handling of the sentence of Aghajari and others, wary of attracting the attention of the hawkish US government, reports The Globe. “They are not looking for trouble,” he said.

Jailed Russian who worked at York a Canadian spy?

Russian military analyst Igor Sutyagin, who was hired by York’s Centre for International and Security Studies in 1997 to do federally-contracted research on civil-military relations in the post-Soviet era, is languishing in a Moscow jail facing charges that he was spying for Canada, reports Maclean’s in its Nov. 11 issue. Sutyagin’s involvement with Canada began in 1997, when the Department of National Defence contracted prominent academics at York’s centre and the Centre for Security and Defence Studies at Carleton to investigate how committed the military in Russia and the former Soviet satellites were to democratic reforms, says the magazine.