Iran TV Accuses U.S. of 'Intolerable' Meddling as Protesters Hit the Streets Again
Iran warns Internet posters, blames foreign media for stirring unrest.
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.
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.
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