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Ahmadinejad, Iranian Delegation Woo U.S. Media

Sunday, 20 Sep 2009 03:32 PM

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent his foreign minister ahead of him to New York on Monday to test the level of protest he would face when coming to this year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting, Newsmax has learned from sources close to the Iranian president.

The Iranian president, whose June 12 re-election was disputed by millions of Iranians around the world and led to massive street demonstrations the regime violently repressed, was worried that he might get shut out of his midtown Manhattan hotel.

Protests by United Against a Nuclear Iran, a U.S.-based nonprofit coalition headed by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Mark Wallace, succeeded in convincing New York’s Helmsley Hotel on Saturday to cancel a gala dinner scheduled for the disputed Iranian leader later this week.

Helmsley Hotel spokesman Howard Rubenstein said the hotel had not been aware that Ahmadinejad would be present at the event, and cancelled it as soon as UANI informed them. “Neither the Iranian mission nor president Ahmadinejad is welcome at any Helmsley facility,” Rubenstein told reporters.

That is not the case at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel, just off Park Avenue at 48th Street. Despite protests from Iranians around the world, the hotel decided to host Ahmadinejad and his large delegation.

Calls seeking the Iranian delegation earlier this week were sent to the control room rented by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).

The DSS officer on duty told Newsmax there was “no Iranian delegation” at the hotel.

But further calls on Wednesday yielded a different answer, with the hotel claiming that the DSS control room was not connected to the hotel switchboard, an unlikely event since it was set up in a regular hotel room.

The State Department regularly provides security for foreign delegations visiting the United Nations and has protected Ahmadinejad before. But this year the level of secrecy has increased, as rumors circulate that an “accidental” meeting between Ahmadinejad and President Barack Obama will occur inside the U.N. chamber.

Ahmadinejad arrived on Tuesday afternoon with an entourage of 127 officials, including many members of the Iranian Parliament, or Majles. It is the largest delegation to this year’s U.N. General Assembly from any U.N. member, including the United States.

The Iranian U.N. mission in New York and the Iranian Interests Section in Washington, D.C. sent an additional 65 personnel to handle security for the disputed president.

In 2006, lawyers representing victims of Iranian state-sponsored terrorism served a lawsuit on former President Mohammad Khatami while he was attending a fundraiser in Virginia. The Iranian Mission wants to prevent a similar occurrence this year, when Ahmadinejad meets with Iranian-Americans.

“Shame on the U.S. media,” said Iranian dissident Roozbeh Farahanipour, a leader of the 1999 student uprising who returned to Iran clandestinely this past July for the 10th commemoration of the student protests.

Farahanipour said that major U.S. media outlets were giving the disputed president unnecessary free publicity by conducting uncritical interviews that failed to challenge him over the regime’s harsh crackdown on protestors earlier this summer.

He cited scheduled interviews with CBS News, the Washington Post, and al Jazeera on Wednesday, the BBC and PBS talk host Charlie Rose on Thursday. National Public Radio, the NY Times, and CNN’s Larry King live on Friday.

Sources close to the Iranian president tell Newsmax that he demanded that CNN broadcast a propaganda video produced by the Iranian government that compares the recent protests in Tehran to the 1965 Los Angeles riots, when 34 people died and the predominantly black Watts neighborhood burned for six days.

The regime acknowledged the deaths of 30 people during demonstrations following the presidential elections, but opposition sources said they have given the authorities the names of 69 persons killed during the unrest.

Most of those who died were knifed by regime agents who had infiltrated the street protests, or shot by regime security officers hiding on rooftops.

Several adolescents were murdered in prison after they were gang-raped by prison guards, according to evidence presented to regime officials by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi. The regime denied the charges and refused to investigate until Karroubi published video images filmed clandestinely inside the jails.

"The issue of detainees being sexually abused is a lie," parliament speaker Ali Larijani told parliament in mid-August, after the allegations surfaced in the press.

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