Exclusive Interview with Iranian Adviser

Hassan Rohani, the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, is a key adviser to the country's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. ABCNEWS' Chris Wallace interviewed him in Tehran.

ABCNEWS' Wallace: A senior official in your government tells me that relations between the U.S. and Iran are the worst ever, worse than during the hostage crisis. How dangerous is the situation?

Rohani: We were never threatened by the United States in the past the way we are right now — even at the time of the beginning of the revolution, and even during the hostage crisis.

Wallace: Why do you think the situation is more dangerous now than during the hostage crisis, when the U.S. sent helicopters into your country to try to rescue the hostages? Why is it more dangerous now?

Rohani: Because at that time, the United States' deployment of its military was only to rescue the hostages, and nothing more. But now the United States' goal is to threaten the foundation of our regime.

Wallace: You believe the U.S would like to overthrow the government of Iran?

Rohani: The American officials themselves have said it in a very straightforward way: When the American Congress approves a specific budget to destroy the government of Iran, and when other officials say their goal is to change the government, it therefore means a threat to our national interests and the survival of our government.

Wallace: Forgive me, sir, I am not aware of U.S. officials ever saying they wanted to change the regime in Iran. They certainly have said this about Iraq, but Iran as well?

Rohani: American officials have repeatedly pointed this out. Anyway, when the Congress approves the specific budget to change the government, what does that mean to you?

Wallace: I want to be clear here. You are saying the U.S. government is actively plotting to overthrow the Iranian government?

Rohani: What we really perceive from American behavior and American contact with the opposition groups of this regime, and also the budget that Congress has approved as well as the anti-government propaganda that they have started gives the Iranian officials and the people of Iran [the] impression that the goal of the United States is to change the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Wallace: So you feel you are in a fight for your life?

Rohani: We feel that the survival of government, this important institution, is threatened by a powerful country.

Wallace: What is Iran going to do to defend itself?

Rohani: Naturally, if anyone wants to threaten our national institutions and the will of the people, we will use this will and every opportunity to protect this government.

Wallace: Such as?

Rohani: It depends on what steps the United States takes to destroy the government, and the kinds of threats the United States makes towards us.

Wallace: Are you talking about military steps? Are you talking about economic steps, use of oil as a weapon? What kinds of actions?

Rohani: As I said before, it depends upon on how the United States takes its threatening steps. And we will react accordingly.

Wallace: What you are describing, Dr. Rohani, is a kind of step leading to war.

Rohani: What we feel is that if the American government believes it can use military force to threaten or change our government, then it will take the opportunity to do so.

Wallace: So do you regard yourself at war with the United States?

Rohani: Of course, not under current conditions, but perhaps in the future it might happen.

Wallace: Probable that you will have a war?

Rohani: In the future, it is probable that we will confront this situation.

President Bush and His 'Axis of Evil'

Wallace: What do you think of President Bush calling Iran part of an "axis of evil?"

Rohani: You have to ask Mr. Bush himself.

Wallace: But I am asking you as an Iranian. I am not asking why he did it, I am asking you what do you think, as the leader of the Supreme National Security Council, of President Bush calling Iran part of the "axis of evil?"

Rohani: For us, it was extremely surprising, the use of this language towards Iran, especially after the September 11th attacks. The Iranian people and Iranian officials sympathized with the American people. And Iran showed its readiness to the United Nations for the fight against terrorism.

Wallace: Given the that Iran had expressed sympathy for the victims of Sept. 11, given the fact the supreme leader expressed sympathy and condemned terrorism, why do you think President Bush included Iran as part of this "axis of evil?"

Rohani: What we really feel is that inside the United States there are two factions. One faction that is after resolving issues with Iran. And the other faction that tries to add conflict. And usually when this faction feels that conditions are ripe, they push for increased conflict. After Sept. 11, the hardliners, especially the Zionist lobby, became more active and, unfortunately, influenced Mr. Bush.

Wallace: Who you identify within this administration as leading this effort against Iran?

Rohani: Within the Bush administration, there are people who are more moderate and others who are more hard-line. We are familiar with their position and what they say.

Wallace: And who do you think this is? Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld? Vice president Cheney? Who do you see in the hard-line wing?

Rohani: What we see in the harsh speeches of the defense secretary and the national security adviser is a much harder line than the others.

Wallace: And is the president merely a puppet of this group?

Rohani: Well, Mr. Bush's experience in leading a country is not a long and a deep one. That's how we feel.

Wallace: What, an amateur?

Rohani: What we really see in the decision-making is the influence of the Zionist lobby. They are very influential in the administration as well as with members of congress.

Wallace: Some of your leaders have had harsh things to say about president Bush. Former President Rafsanjani said he was a dinosaur with the brain of a sparrow. I believe the supreme leader talked about war mongering. What do you think of President Bush?

Rohani: What I can say is that the people of Iran really didn't expect the harsh language that president bush used towards them. The people of Iran expected President Bush to use a proper tone of voice towards the government and the Iranian people.

Iran and Terrorism

Wallace: Let's talk if we can about the substance of President Bush's remarks about the "axis of evil." Does Iran support terrorism?

Rohani: Iran has always been the victim of terrorism. And also, as you know, since the revolution, terrorist groups inside Iran have been active against the government. And some of these terrorist groups have been supported by Western countries, and America in particular. But Iran has always been against terrorism, and has always fought against terrorism.

Wallace: U.S. officials say that with the Taliban now gone, that Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism.

Rohani: What is the reason for what they claim?

Wallace: Well, let me give you some examples, sir. Why did Iran try to smuggle a shipload full of arms to the Palestinians?

Rohani: We have been waiting for a reason for this accusation for the longest time. Do you have any proof to present to us? We have said clearly that this is a baseless accusation, and for this accusation, evidence must be given. Besides, Mr. Arafat's government is a legitimate government, and this legitimate government has the right to buy arms from any other government if it chooses to. This has nothing to do with terrorism.

Wallace: Did Iran try to smuggle a shipload of arms to the Palestinians?

Rohani: I have told you this is not true and we have repeatedly said that if everyone has any evidence of this, they should present it.

Wallace: But didn't this ship pick up these arms off the Iranian island of Kish?

Rohani: No. We have declared clearly that this is not true. And we have also declared that any country that has evidence should present it. This accusation comes from Israel and unfortunately it has also been repeated by some American officials.

Wallace: Before we came here, we talked to some American officials because we know that is the position of your government: Show us the evidence. So I will tell you some of the things they said: There were 50 tons of weapons that were seized on this ship, including Katyusha rockets, explosives, AK-47s, and many of these weapons are manufactured only in Iran.

Rohani: OK, if you have any proof that they are manufactured in Iran, please show it to us. And also as you know, Iranian weapons are in the hands of all kinds of terrorist groups, including anti-government terrorists who commit acts of terrorism inside Iran. These terrorist groups have looted these arms from the Iranian military. Therefore, it is not difficult to gain access to Iranian weapons. Besides, these weapons exist in neighboring countries, and we sell and have sold a lot of these weapons to our neighbors.

Wallace: You ask for evidence. I have some photos that were taken after the ship was seized by the Israelis. Do any of these weapons look familiar to you? (Hands him photos)

Rohani: This is not a reason. (Laughs.) You are showing me pictures of a weapon! What kind of proof is that, even to your eyes? This is only a picture of a weapon. We can also show you a picture of a weapon anywhere from the United States. A picture is not evidence of anything.

Wallace: But U.S. officials say that some of these weapons — the anti-tank mines, the rocket-propelled grenades — are made only in Iran, and that the markings had been scratched off.

Rohani: I told you clearly that Iranian weapons are in the possession of anti-government terrorist groups in Iran. These terrorists groups who are against (inaudible) use the same weapons to fight us. These are the same weapons they have looted from the Iranian military. Plus the fact that we sell the weapons to many countries. Therefore, Iranian weapons can be anywhere. This is not proof.

Wallace: So you are saying as the head of the Supreme National Security Council, that these weapons that were on the Karine A. did not come from element within Iran?

Rohani: Not necessarily related to Iran and Iranian officials. We have repeatedly declared that if any country has proof that these weapons have come from Iran, show us that evidence so that we can examine it. Iran is not necessarily in favor of sending weapons to the Palestinians and the Palestinians don't need those weapons. If the Palestinians need any weapons they get from inside Israel.

Support for Hezbollah

Wallace: What do you think of Imad Mugniyah [alleged terrorist mastermind accused by U.S. authorities of planning the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner]?

Rohani: He is just a man from Lebanon.

Wallace: Do you think he is a good man? Do you think he is a man of religion? Is he a friend of yours, of Iran's?

Rohani: There are so many people who might like Iran, but that doesn't mean that we have a working relationship with the man.

Wallace: Have you ever met Imad Mugniyah?

Rohani: (Shakes his head no.)

Wallace: What do you think of his activities?

Rohani: Ask him yourself. I'm not Imad Mugniyah, and we don't have any connection to him.

Wallace: The reason I ask is — hasn't Iran for years been supporting Mugniyah with money, with weapons, and with training?

Rohani: This also, if you have any proof, present it to us.

Wallace: Doesn't he spend a lot of time in Iran?

Rohani: So many people come to Iran and return. They come as tourists and return home; and that doesn't mean we have an organic relationship.

Wallace: You say that there is no organic relationship, but hasn't Iran supported Hezbollah for many years?

Rohani: Hezbollah is more than a person. Hezbollah is a group in Lebanon, a legitimate political group. They have representatives; people support them enormously; and, Hezbollah is a group that has fought for freedom for their own country. And it is a popular group to the Lebanese people.

Wallace: But Mugniyah is the terrorist leader of Hezbollah. So if you have a relationship with Hezbollah, don't you have a relationship with Imad Mugniyah?

Rohani: Our relationship is with this institution, not with an individual. Within this institution there are thousands of active members, and we are neither responsible for their activities nor do we have detailed information about their activities. What is important to us is that Hezbollah is a group that has fought for the freedom of its country, and has freed a huge part of its occupied land.

Wallace: Do you condemn Imad Mugniyah's actions?

Rohani: I don't even know what Imad Mugniyah has done. Am I responsible for the actions of individuals?

Wallace: His actions? He was the mastermind of the TWA hijacking. He was involved in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the Marine barracks in Beirut, that together killed more than 300 people. Do you condemn those actions?

Rohani: We have no information about these actions you are talking about. Anyway, you have to bring the evidence for us to see who has really done these things. But we basically condemn airplane hijacking, whoever has done it.

Wallace: Without getting into who was responsible, do you condemn those actions?

Rohani: Generally speaking, we condemn hijacking airplanes, whoever does it. In general, we condemn any terrorist act that kills innocent people.

Are the Palestinians Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?

Wallace: Some of the leaders of your government try to distinguish between terrorists and freedom fighters. What's the difference?

Rohani: Everybody does that. It's not specifically us. In general, any nation that fights against occupation is proud of its action. And under international law, it is very clear that fighting for the freedom of occupied land is different from a terrorist act.

Wallace: What are the limits? Where does it go over the line, from freedom fighting to terrorism?

Rohani: When a country is occupied, in order to kick out the occupier from its own land and its own home, this fight is a freedom fight. When a country — its land or its government — is being occupied by another power, and when that nation fights to kick the occupier out, this kind of action is the action of a freedom fighter, and it is considered a legitimate defense.

Wallace: Are the Palestinian suicide bombers freedom fighters or terrorists?

Rohani: Palestine is a land that has been occupied by Israel. And Palestinians can use any means to kick out the occupier. The Palestinian intifada was supported at the Islamic summit, which consisted of some 50 Islamic countries. They supported Palestinian action and the Intifada. The Arab countries approved the Palestinian struggle, the Palestinians, who have been subjected to all kinds of violence. And a military power is attacking them that does not respect any international law, not even the U.N. resolutions. And doesn't even allow a fact-finding group to enter Jenin and report on the realities of what happened in Jenin.

Wallace: Dr. Rohani, you said that the Palestinians can use any action to fight Israeli occupation, yes?

Rohani: We believe that the Palestinians, to regain their country and their freedom and to kick out their occupier have the right to fight with Israel.

Wallace: Any right?

Rohani: Palestinians have to try, if it is possible, not to hurt non-combatants.

Wallace: But let me ask you directly, when someone walks into a restaurant, to a Passover Seder, and slaughters innocent families, is that a freedom fighter?

Rohani: What should they do? What is the Palestinians' alternative? The Palestinians, whose children are being killed?

Wallace: So they should kill Israeli children?

Rohani: What is their alternative? You tell me what should these people do? If these people are blowing themselves to pieces before anything else, this means there remains no alternative. What the Palestinians are doing is to show the world how the powerful nations have not done their job. Why has the United States repeatedly vetoed the U.N. Resolutions against Israel? In reality, what has forced the Palestinians to commit these acts is the superpowers, that with no logic, no reason, have supported the occupier for the last 55 years.

Wallace: But I ask again — killing innocent families, bombing in restaurants, bombing at a Passover Seder, that is legitimate, that is justified?

Rohani: The Israeli attacks, the Israeli bombardment, the Apache helicopters that attack people's homes, shooting at their homes, do Americans approve of them?

Wallace: The American government has condemned the use of its weapons for this purpose.

Rohani: When Mr. Powell went to Israel, he approved Mr. Sharon's action. He did not condemn it.

Wallace: Does Iran support the Palestinian suicide bombers?

Rohani: What we believe is that killing must stop completely. Israel must be forced to the negotiating table. The U.N. Resolutions must be implemented. What Iran thinks of the Middle East is this: Israel must allow the refugees to return to their homeland, and the future of the region must be by the people, through a referendum, and what people vote for must be done.

Wallace: Will Iran support any peace agreement negotiated between the Israelis and the Palestinians?

Rohani: Generally speaking, we support any solution that leads to Palestinians' rights. That solution would be acceptable to us.

Wallace: Will Iran support the Saudi plan that would include full diplomatic recognition of Israel in return for the territories taken in 1967?

Rohani: In the Saudi plan, because there is one step that protects the rights of the Palestinians, we support it. But that does not mean we completely accept it.

Wallace: And would you be willing to recognize Israel as part of that?

Rohani: We are not part of the planning. You are asking me if we support it. We are not presenting this plan. I told you what our plan is. Our plan is that all refugees return to their homeland and all the Palestinians and should participate in a referendum, and whatever the peoples' wish is, and whatever the outcome of the referendum is, then we accept it. This is our plan. But we do not reject the Saudi plan because in the Saudi plan the Palestinians will gain part of their rights.

Humanitarian Support Only

Wallace: New subject. What is the Al Quds force?

Rohani: In Iran, the Al Quds force is part of the revolutionary guard.

Wallace: Isn't it a branch that, among other things, trains Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad?

Rohani: The Al Quds force's duty is, for instance, in Afghanistan. There is some kind of relationship between Al Quds forces and Northern Alliance. At the beginning of the formation of Hezbollah, there was a relationship. But today, Hezbollah does not need us, because Hezbollah is an independent military force.

Wallace: Does Al Quds currently train Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

Rohani: No, I told you, the Hezbollah in Lebanon do not need to be militarily trained today.

Wallace: And what about Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

Rohani: They don't need the military training. They are familiar with military techniques and they do their job for the freedom of the region.

Wallace: So Iran is doing nothing at this point to support Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad?

Rohani: The kind of support that we give to the Palestinians is not military support. It is humanitarian support. Support for the Palestinian people. And as you know, we bring some of the wounded Palestinians here and we provide them with food and clothing and we also sent it to them.

Wallace: Is it humanitarian support to give money to the families of the suicide bombers?

Rohani: Any Palestinian whose home has been destroyed and needs food, we help them.

Wallace: Have you given money specifically to the families of the suicide bombers?

Rohani: We do not have a special program for this issue. We generally help the needy.

Wallace: You deny that Al Quds is involved in terrorist training. Isn't there a terrorist training camp right here in Tehran, the Imam Ali camp?

Rohani: We don't where the Imam Ali camp is. Do you know where the Imam Ali camp is? We have no knowledge of it.

Wallace: You've never heard of the Imam Ali camp?

Rohani: We have lots of Imam Alis. We have Imam Ali bases. We also have many Imam Ali troops.

Wallace: I am told that just north of the Sai'Dabad palace (in Tehran) there is an Imam Ali camp that is an active terrorist training camp.

Rohani: We are basically against terrorism. We are the victims of terrorism. We recognize Israel as a terrorist nation. We are the same country that recognized the Taliban as terrorists. The same Taliban that the United States created. The same Taliban that the Americans trained and financially supported. Even Al Qaeda and bin Laden were trained, as you know, by the CIA. The CIA gave them training and armed them in the past.

Wallace: But wasn't that to fight the Russian imperialists?

Rohani: Anyway, you created them and now you are troubled by them. The Islamic republic of Iran has never had a relationship with terrorists and never supported them. If your definition of terrorist groups are Hezbollah and Hamas, they are not terrorists. They are the kinds of groups who are fighting for the freedom of land.

Wallace: So have you given support to them, to Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

Rohani: I told you before, we have humanitarian help to all these groups. We basically give humanitarian help to all the Palestinians, and these groups do not need us for the military training you are asking about.

Wallace: So you've never heard of the Imam Ali camp here in Tehran?

Rohani: No, I have never heard of this one before. We have many Imam Ali camps, maybe dozens of Imam Ali camps in different cities.

Wallace: Is there one near Sai'Dabad palace?

Rohani: No, I don't have any knowledge of that.

Wallace: If you find out, would you allow us to go there?

Rohani: There is no problem. You can go to any of our military camps. There is no problem.

Wallace: So how do we arrange this?

Rohani: You are asking me if there is a camp that trains terrorists, and I am telling you Iran has never and will never have any relations with terrorists, and has never trained any terrorist. Iran is a victim of terrorism, and the terrorist groups who have fought against our people are being supported by the United States of America.

Denies Nuclear, Chemical, Biological Weapons Plans

Wallace: Is Iran trying to develop weapons of mass destruction?

Rohani: If Iran is after making weapons of mass destruction, why has Iran signed various international treaties against these weapons? If Iran has signed all these treaties, it means Iran is not interested in producing weapons of mass destruction.

Wallace: Let me ask you directly: Is Iran trying to develop a nuclear bomb?

Rohani: I answered you. If we are interested in producing nuclear weapons, why do we sign treaties against them?

Wallace: So the answer is no?

Rohani: One hundred percent.

Wallace: Is Iran trying to develop chemical weapons?

Rohani: If you want to question me step by step, I'll answer you step by step. When we have signed international treaties, it means we are not pursuing making nuclear weapons. We are not pursuing making chemical weapons. We are not pursuing making biological weapons. Iran is not interested in any of these.

Wallace: So why do U.S. officials say that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb, that you have an active program in Esfahan, that you have had chemical weapons for years, and that you are trying to develop biological weapons?

Rohani: We have the same question. Why don't you ask the American officials why we are being accused while our country's door is open to any agency to inspect. This American accusation is immoral. This American accusation is not within the framework of international relations. When we accept inspectors, the inspectors are free to go anywhere they wish. Therefore, American officials have no right to use this kind of language against any country. When America itself has used weapons of mass destruction against innocent people in its history, it should at least not accuse any other country. America is the only country that has blocked inspections for chemical weapons. Our country's door is open for chemical and biological weapons inspectors.

Wallace: Let me ask you about a different weapon. Are you developing a Shahab missile that would be capable of reaching Tel Aviv?

Rohani: Iran has sent a plan to the U.N. for producing this missile, and today is waiting for a special regulation for this missile plan, and Iran is cooperating. But why are you mentioning Tel Aviv? Israel itself has atomic bombs. Why is America not condemning Israel? Israel has not signed any international treaties against such weapons. Why? Israel has flatly refused to sign any of these. You do not clearly and directly condemn Israel, but Iran, which has signed everything and keeps its door open, you accuse us with no evidence? Our question is, what is your reason for accusing us?

Wallace: Are you accusing the United States of having a double standard in the way it judges nations?

Rohani: Certainly. America uses a double standard. They close their eyes toward Israel and accuse the countries they don't have good relations with.

Wallace: Why do you think the U.S. views Iran as such as enemy?

Rohani: This is the same question you brought up at the beginning of this discussion. America is not pleased with the Islamic republic of Iran and the revolution of Iran because during the Shah's regime, there was a government in power that was a puppet at the service of the United States that would act on America's orders. Generally speaking, America is not keen on independent countries. America is not keen on people's freedom. America is keen on countries that completely surrender themselves and act according to America's demands.

U.S. Strike on Iraq

Wallace: How would Iran view a U.S. Invasion of Iraq?

Rohani: We basically do not accept any American invasion of any Islamic nation.

Wallace: You would not be happy to the United States to dispose of your longtime enemy, Saddam Hussein?

Rohani: As you know, we were against the Taliban, but we condemned American attacks on Afghanistan, even though we were hostile to the Taliban. We might have difficulties with Saddam Hussein's regime, but we don't accept any country that uses military might against another based on accusations. However, we always wish that Iraq acts according to U.N. Resolutions.

Wallace: Would Iran feel threatened by an Iraqi attack? Would you feel that the U.S. was surrounding Iran?

Rohani: We are concerned with two issues. One, a country attacking another without permission. We don't accept it; we condemn it. Iraq is an Islamic nation and it is our neighbor. A military attack hurts innocent people immensely. And also, it threatens our central provinces.

Friendly Relations With the United States

Wallace: What would you like the American people to understand about Iran?

Rohani: We are interested in friendly relations between the American people and the Iranian people. We believe that America is completely aware of our country's reality. We support any kind of relations between the two nations. We support tourism between the two nations. We support scientific relations and athletic and cultural relations. We are not interested in increasing tensions between the two nations. We are not interested in threatening American interests in the region or in the world. At the same time, we will not allow America to threaten our interests in the region or in the world. Also, we will not allow America to disrespect our people's vote and wishes and interfere in our internal affairs. We thought after Sept. 11 there would be a better situation between Iran and the United States, but unfortunately that opportunity has been destroyed by Mr. Bush's speech and by other U.S. officials.

Wallace: You've said a couple of things I have to follow up on. First of all, you have said that contact with Iran would be helpful. Why has the supreme leader banned any talks between U.S. and Iranian officials, including a meeting between members of parliament and members of the United States Senate?

Rohani: For any changes in the decision making of the officials of Iran, we need an appropriate situation. When America threatens us and opposes our very foundation, and even the congress invests money in political propaganda against us, and America even supports terrorists who oppose us, all these things cannot create a condition for our countries to have a dialogue. What Mr. Bush and his administration have done has a reverse result. We do not believe having a dialogue with the United States under the current threatening conditions would be fruitful. America must accept that it will never deal with the kind of Iran that existed before the revolution. It will never deal with Iran of the Shah's era. America must recognize the legitimacy of our government, of our revolution, of our institutions, of our people's will, with words and with actions.

Democracy or Oppression?

Wallace: We hear about the Islamic republic. We hear about democracy. We hear about the constitutional protection of rights. And yet we hear about newspapers being shut down, dissidents who are put into jail. How free is Iran?

Rohani: The kind of freedom you see in Iran, you cannot see it in many countries. We have a free parliament, and its representatives are elected by the people. And all the discussions in parliament are broadcast on the radio. The people of Iran, since the revolution, have free elections every year. In our country, the number of newspapers and magazines is 10 times greater than before the revolution. And as you know, the number of newspapers and magazines is increasing. People are completely free to express their thoughts. Of course, there are laws and rules in every country. There is a court, and if anyone disobeys the law, then it is the law that deals with that person. What is important is that the courts act within the framework of the law. It is possible that some newspapers or magazine publishers go against the law, and it would be dealt with, but that does not mean that there is no freedom or democracy in this country. If we don't abide by the law, it would be a shambles. We have to distinguish between freedom and shambles.

Wallace: It's a shamble to have someone who criticizes the government? It's a shamble to have someone who opposes the government in a peaceful way, that's a shambles?

Rohani: Read these newspapers and see with what freedom they express their opinions. Officials are being criticized; government is being criticized. Some groups are against it; some groups are for it.

Wallace: But I read today in the paper that two more newspapers have been shut down.

Rohani: But one of them has reopened. There is only one closed. Of course, we have laws for our publications. And of course, even with the one publication that was shut down, it is a temporary shutdown. That means the newspaper is closed by a judge until a trial. And as you know, there is a jury, and the jury will decide. Therefore it is possible a newspaper acts against the law. Every newspaper has to act according to the law. Even in your country, anyone who breaks the law must face justice. What is important is that the judge and the court deals with the lawbreaker. The lawbreaker has a right to get a lawyer, to defend himself. That's what matters. And as you know, the trial for a newspaper has to be done in a court, with a jury, and it has to be done with a defense lawyer. And finally, the judge decides. Therefore, this process is completely in the framework of a democratic regime such as Iran.

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