The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

September 19, 2013

Iran's Rouhani: People should be 'completely free'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iranian President Hasan Rouhani says his people should be free to think, speak and seek information on the Internet, subject to "the protection of our national identity."

In an interview with NBC News in Tehran, Rouhani said that a "commission for citizens' rights" will be established "in the near future." He said the viewpoint of the government on censorship issues should be based "on our morals."

"We want the people in their private life to be completely free. In today's world, having access to information and the right of free dialogue and the right to think freely is the right of all people, including the people of Iran," Rouhani said, according to an NBC translation of the interview. A portion of the interview was broadcast Thursday on the "Today" show.

In the wide-ranging question-and-answer session, Rouhani said that Iran has "never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so."

He side-stepped a question about whether the Holocaust was real. And he said that his authority is genuine and lasting, even though Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is known to control all matters of state, including nuclear.

Asked by network correspondent Ann Curry about statements that predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made questioning the Holocaust, Rouhani said only, "I'm not a historian. I'm a politician. What is important for us is that the countries of the region and the people grow closer to each other and that they are able to prevent aggression and injustice."

Asked about criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Iran's policies and plans, Rouhani said he didn't understand how an "occupier" nation could be in a position to lecture another country. He called Israel a nation that "does injustice to the people of the region and has brought instability to the region with its war-mongering policies." Rouhani said Israel "shouldn't allow itself to give speeches about a democratically and freely elected government."

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