Diane Sawyer Interviews Iranian President Ahmadinejad

SAWYER: A question also about Iran and as I said we hope so much to be able to return ourselves and see what is happening but we see the videos on the Internet, we see the Twitter calls from the protestors in the street, we see the signs that say "Death to Dictator." You have said that any one in Iran can express their point of view, that it is fully permitted. Are you saying these demonstrators in the next few days can go to the street in any number they want, and they can protest and they will be safe?

AHMADINEJAD: Do you think such a thing exists in America? Can the people there come to the streets whenever they want, say whatever they want?

SAWYER: You can apply for a permit, yes?

AHMADINEJAD: Are you sure?

SAWYER: And they can go to the street and express their opinions, yes?

AHMADINEJAD: Are you sure?

SAWYER: If you apply for a permit...

AHMADINEJAD: During Pittsburgh meeting, there was a demonstration by 1,000 people. The police beat them and attacked them with tear gas and boiling water. A large number of people were arrested. Did they have the permission to demonstrate or had they come there without permission? Did they have the permission or not?

SAWYER: But thousands of people are allowed to come out and criticize the government, routinely.

AHMADINEJAD: It is the same in Iran, but my question to you is, those people who were beaten in Pittsburgh, were arrested and attacked with tear gas, what were they saying? What was their demand? Was it against the law or was it legal? Why were they beaten?

SAWYER: I would like to debate it, but I'm afraid our time is so short. I want to make sure that I ask this question because so many people have written here in the United States about it. They are reporting that there is a division in the Iranian government between you and the Supreme National Security Council. Is there is a division in the Iranian government now between you and the Ayatollah [Ali Hoseyni] Khamenei and the council on nuclear issues? And what about the division we see with the Ayatollah [Hussein-Ali] Montazeri, with [Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani taking to the streets to criticize the government.

AHMADINEJAD: Well, in every country -- translate it for me. She didn't get me.

AHMADINEJAD: In Iran we have got freedom, more than what there is in America.


AHMADINEJAD: They are free to speak and demonstrate. Yes, we have got elections in Iran. Whoever wins the most votes forms the government. Some people oppose the government. This is natural. There is no problem. They speak their mind.

SAWYER: But as you know, human rights activists, Amnesty International says 4,000 people were arrested among the protesters, that there have been executions, some of them, mass executions of protestors, striking fear in their hearts.

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