Iran Accuses CIA Of Killing Neda Soltan

Yesterday, Iranian ambassador Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the bullet that killed young Neda Agha Soltan was not Iranian, and thus her killers were CIA operatives or terrorists.

Ghadiri explained,

These are the bullets that the CIA and terrorist groups use. Of course they warned that there would be a bloodshed in these demonstrations and then they could attribute that to the Islamic republic. This is part of a common act of CIA in various countries.

He wouldn't lay the blame directly at the feet of the CIA, instead saying,

I'm not saying that the CIA had done this. There are different groups. Could be intelligence services, could be CIA, could be the terrorists. However, these are the people who do these things.

Ghadiri's equivocation aside, it's clear that the Iranian government is trying to turn the outrage over Neda's death away from itself and onto its adversaries. In an odd turn of events, another source of information about the killing turns out to be Brazilian novelist Paul Coelho, who happens to be friends with the doctor who saved Neda. Coelho recognized Dr. Arash Hejazi in the video of Neda's death, and began an e-mail exchange; the e-mails are published in the Times of London. Hejazi writes,

The video of Neda's murder was taken by my friend, and you can recognize me in the video. I was the doctor who tried to save her and failed. She died in my arms. I am writing with tears in my eyes.

In a later message, he says,

Trying to leave the country tomorrow morning. If I don't arrive in London at 2 pm, something has happened to me. Till then, wait. Please wait till tomorrow. If something happens to me, please take care of my wife and son, they are there, alone, and have no one else in the world.

Luckily, Hejazi did arrive in London, but his fear speaks to the repressiveness of the Iranian regime, especially in the wake of Neda's death. Ghadiri told Blitzer,

We have no problem with mournings. Naturally we don't want to provide an opportunity for the rioters to come in and make the situation worse.

But guards at Neda's grave are making it difficult for Iranians to gather and talk to one another there. Mourners are visiting the grave anyway, but one says,

Now the military has taken the power and prevents us from paying our respects. It's not a big request! We want respect to Neda.

Speaking for all Iranians during this chaotic time, he also says, "All of us are in danger, like Neda."

Image by artist Tim O'Brien.

"The CIA Killed Neda" [Daily Dish]
Emails Between Doctor At Iran Shooting And Writer Who Posted Video [TimesOnline]
Iranians Pay Respects At Neda Agha-Soltan's Grave [LA Times]