September 15, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2501

In Public Trials in Iran, Former Iranian VP Abtahi, Others Charged with Leading 'Velvet Coup d'Etat'

September 15, 2009
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 2501

Following are excerpts from reports on the public trials in Iran of defendants in the protests that followed the June 12, 2009 presidential election in the country.

The reports aired on various Iranian channels from August 1 through 8, 2009:

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit

"A Velvet Coup D'état is One of Many Ways to Topple a Regime"

Tehran deputy prosecutor: "A velvet coup d'état is one of many ways to topple a regime. It has the same goal as a military coup, but it is completely different in its method and instruments.

"So far, the project of velvet coups d'état has been carried out in several countries. In most cases, it has been successful, but in some cases, it has not. In most of these countries, the coup was staged against the backdrop of elections. These attempts have many similarities with the failed project of the velvet coup d'état in Iran, which developed under the pretext of the 10th presidential elections, in their final phase.

"The model planned in Iran, like that of the other countries, has three branches: ideological, executive, and the media. Each of these branches has active, subordinate bodies. For example, the ideological branch has religious intellectuals, secular intellectuals, wealthy financiers, foreign policy shapers, literary people, and so on. Each of these bodies consists of institutions within Iran and abroad, which play an active role.

"The main resemblance between Iran's failed velvet coup d'état and the velvet coups in other countries lies in their raising of the issue of forgery, in an effort to foster lack of confidence among the public, and to undermine the legitimacy of the political regime. The aim of this movement was to instill the idea of elections fraud in people's minds and to mislead them."

"By Leveling False Accusations Against This Ministry... the Movement Sought To Deceive Public Opinion - This is the Main Reason for the Outbreak of the Riots"

"This movement forged the letter of the Ministry of the Interior. By leveling false accusations against this ministry, and by distributing the letter on a wide scale, the movement sought to deceive public opinion. This is the main reason for the outbreak of the riots, which caused great physical and mental damage, such as the killing of fellow citizens. In their confessions, the defendants admitted that even though they knew that there had been no forgery, they raised the issue in order to cast doubt upon [the elections]. The widespread illegal gatherings and the mobilization of forces in the streets are another similarity between the velvet coups in Iran and the countries mentioned.

"Such measures are taken in order to practice and prepare for the taking over of important government centers. This happened in almost all the velvet coup d'états, but it failed in Iran." [...]

"There Was No Forgery Whatsoever" In These Elections

Defendant Mohammad Ali Abtahi, former Iranian vice president: "The most important thing that happened in these elections, which gained special significance both during and after the elections, was the issue of forgery. Yesterday, I was talking with the friends here about this, and I said - perhaps in an ironic tone - that at a certain point, 'forgery' became the code name for rebellion in Iran. Instead of looking at the issue of forgery in a purely technical way, it became a code name for a kind of rebellion, which included organizing votes, activating forces, and recruiting people for the sake of forging [the election results] - although forgery can be committed without resorting to the recruitment of masses.


"What the honorable deputy prosecutor referred to as a 'color revolution' or 'velvet revolution' - there is velvet in his clothes as well... I believe that there was potential for what he referred to as a 'color revolution.' I do not know whether this goal or intention existed or not, but the potential was there. If this potential had existed in a country slightly weaker than Iran, it could have indeed been realized.

"There was no forgery whatsoever. I am surprised that this issue was raised this time with regard to 11 million votes. There may not be even a single person here who is not aware that I did not support Mr. Ahmadinejad’s bid for presidency. I did not want Mr. Ahmadinejad to be president. However, Mr. Ahmadinejad gained 11 million votes more [than Mousavi]."

"I Felt That We Have Betrayed the Rule of the People

"As someone who supports the rule of the people, as someone who supports democracy, as someone who supports the independence of this country - by not accepting this difference of 11 million votes, and by not liking a certain candidate [Ahmadinejad], and by criticizing this issue, I felt that we have betrayed the rule of the people, democracy, the history and the greatness of Iran, and more importantly, we prevented the people from attaining democracy, and from establishing a civil society." [...]

French National Charged With "Acting Against National Security"

Announcer: "Ms. Reiss - a French national arrested during the post-election incidents, whose father is a member of the French Commission for Atomic Energy, and whose mother is a member of the French army - has been charged with acting against national security, by being present in gatherings and riots, by collecting news, information, and pictures from these riots, and by presenting them to the scientific attaché in the French Embassy."

Clotilde Reiss: "During the two weeks after the elections, I was present at the June 15 and 17 demonstrations in Tehran. I shot footage and took pictures at these demonstrations. I asked my French and Iranian friends for information about the demonstrations and about the political situation in Iran.

"I asked my friends because I wanted to get information and to understand the situation in Iran, because I was interested in understanding what was happening in Iran. That’s why I asked them. I also emailed the information I had to French people in France and in Iran."

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