Iran TV Accuses U.S. of 'Intolerable' Meddling as Protesters Hit the Streets Again

Iran warns Internet posters, blames foreign media for stirring unrest.

June 17, 2009, 4:47 AM

TEHRAN, Iran, June 17, 2009 — -- Supporters of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi are marching again on the streets of Tehran today, state TV reported. It's the fifth consecutive day of protests since last week's controversial presidential election.

Video posted on YouTube today purportedly shows a long line of protesters marching across an overpass. ABC News could not verify the accuracy of the video.

Also today, Iranian state TV accused the United States of "intolerable" meddling in its internal affairs, The Associated Press reported.

The AP says a state television channel in Iran reported that the government called in the Swiss ambassador to Iran, who represents U.S. interests, to complain about American interference.

Iranian state television, blamed the foreign media for the unrest in the country, even as two senior opposition leaders were arrested here today.

The statement echoes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim over the weekend that the foreign media is engaged in psychological warfare against the Iranian people. Wednesday the government barred foreign media from attending and reporting on demos organized by supporters of Mousavi.

Mousavi today called for a national day of mourning, to take place Thursday, in honor of the eight protesters killed Tuesday. He's calling for that and all other protests to be peaceful.

Although foreign media are now banned from attending protests or filming anywhere in the streets, this morning we went to Vanak Square -- one of the main squares where protests have taken place -- and all was calm. Protests usually begin in the afternoon and continue into the early morning hours.

Iran's most powerful military organization, the Revolutionary Guards also warned local online media of an impending crackdown over their coverage of the protests following the disputed election. The Associated Press reported that the guards ordered that Iranian Web sites and bloggers must remove any materials that "create tension," or the offenders will face legal action.

This is the first public statement issued by the guards since the vote last week.

Members of Irans national soccer team in South Korea for a tournament were seen wearing a green armbands during a match, the same color used by supporters of Mousavi.

Two senior opposition leaders were arrested Wednesday, including Saeed Laylez, an economist, whom we interviewed Friday. At the time, he told us, "The Iranian mentality is changing. The generation is changing. Because of this, 'change' and 'yes we can' is the slogan of all of the reformist candidates."

The foreign media ban increases the importance of amateur videos, blogs and e-mail accounts gathered by protesters and distributed on the Internet. A new cell-phone video shows a student protest at Tehran University. Students there said police attacked them again overnight.

Protestors here have been fighting bullets with technology. Wherever we go, we're surrounded by people, like us, filming on their cell-phones, and spreading the word on websites like Facebook and Twitter, which has led government censors to block them.

A Mousavi supporter scoffed at the government, saying, "The government thinks that blocking Web sites can prevent the protests [...] but if people want, they can reach their goals anyway."

And the word still gets out, with amateur videos being posted on YouTube and shown to the world. BBC Persian reported receiving videos from viewers at the rate of five a minute Tuesday.

Both supporters and opponents of Ahmadinejad held separate rallies Tuesday in Tehran to either celebrate, or condemn, last week's contested elections.

Mousavi supporters gathered illegally to protest the election results. After initially encouraging his supporters to attend, Mousavi warned them away, fearing violence. Police said protestors would pay a heavy price.

"Our officers will crush any unrest," said Esmaeil Ahmadi Moqaddam, the national chief of police.

Demonstrators defied the threats. Some eyewitnesses reported crowds even bigger than Monday's massive demonstration, which drew hundreds of thousands.

"The protestors came to claim their rights," said one Tehran resident. "It's the government that should be held responsible."

Speaking on Iranian television, a member of the Guardian Council -- Iran's most powerful clerics -- offered a partial recount. But opposition leaders are demanding an entirely new election.

"I do not think the Guardian Council will have the courage to stand against the people," said Ali Akbar Mohtashamipou, a Mousavi representative.Iranian state TV announced Tuesday that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah ali Khamenei, met with envoys of four opposition candidates and called for unity.

Amateur video reportedly showed a long column of anti-government protesters walking, apparently peacefully along a wide street on Tehran's north side, not far from where the pro-government rally was being held.

In Washington, President Obama said Tuesday the Iranian government's decision to allow a recount of some of the votes in last week's election shows that Khamenei understands that the Iranian people have "deep concerns" about the election, and its bloody aftermath.

But Obama, speaking after a meeting with South Korea's president at the White House, continued to tone down his criticism of the government, saying it would be "not productive ... to be seen as meddling."

Officials prepared to recount ballots, but only from contested precincts, after a ruling by Iran's Guardian Council, controlled by Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by "a large margin" in last Friday's election.

After Monday's protest, Iranian state radio said seven people were killed in clashes when "thugs attacked a military outpost" after a mass rally.

But ABC News witnessed the protest and it was very peaceful.

Unlike previous protests dominated by young people, Monday's protest mixed young and old, students and professionals.

A male protestor told us, "It's very clear, clear as daylight, you see the crowd. The government has really changed the results."

A female protestor chimed in, saying, "We're here for our revolution." Like many here, she expressed the hope that the demos could bring about a change in the government.

Mousavi supporters flooded through downtown Tehran, numbering hundreds of thousands, making this possibly the largest demonstration here since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

All was peaceful until early in the evening pro-government paramilitary fired into the crowd.

The shots came from the roof, an eyewitness told ABC News over the phone, hitting a car with protestors riding on top. One man was hit and flung from the car.

Violence is now spreading around the country. Mousavi's Web site reports that a protestor has been killed in Shiraz, while the BBC has reported instances of live fire being used by police in provincial cities.

The government blames the violence on the protestors, calling them vandals. But many Iranians don't accept that explanation, and the government is now facing an enormous popular wave of dissent.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.