American Morning

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June 24th, 2009
05:37 PM ET

American tourist tells harrowing tale of run-in with Basij

Editor's Note: Michelle May is an American and Irish national who was briefly detained and questioned by the Basij while visiting Tehran this past Saturday amidst Iran's election protests.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Michelle May is an American and Irish national who was detained and questioned by the Basij in Tehran last Saturday."]

By: Michelle May
Special to CNN

The day after Iran's Supreme Leader delivered his Friday prayer at Tehran University the streets of Tehran felt eerily quiet. Although friends translated his prayer to me, I went to a net café to read western analysis of what the Ayatollah said. I tried to access CNN online, but the government had slowed down the Internet to keep Iranians feeling isolated that week.

As I waited for the news to load a young man named Ali offered to help me. I expressed my annoyance to him over the slowed Internet speed, and the fact that Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and the BBC had all been blocked. “Our government is very bad,” he said. I nodded my head slightly.

Just then CNN’s page miraculously loaded. The word “bloodshed” stuck out in the headline next to a photo of the white-bearded Supreme Leader. It wasn’t reassuring.

Ali helped me hail a taxi to Valiasr Square to meet a friend for coffee. The taxi quickly moved through streets that were normally clogged with gridlock traffic. As we approached my destination two motorbikes pulled up on both sides of the taxi, waving for us to pull over. They were Basiji men.

An unfamiliar feeling of terror came over me the moment I recognized one of the men as Ali from the net café. The other three had all the classic Basiji traits: dark beards, husky builds, walkie-talkies, shirts buttoned up to the top, but un-tucked at the bottom for better access to pistols stored in the waist of their trousers.

Ali motioned for me to get out of the car. “No, no, no!” I cried, shaking my head, tears pouring down my face, my mouth going dry, my throat feeling as if it were going to close. Two other motorbikes with Basij came up behind us, along with another car. There were at least 10 of them and one of me. My mind started to race: Who do they possibly think I am, and what have I done for them to make such a production over me?


Filed under: Iran
June 24th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen! Your comments – 6/24/09

Editor's Note: Wednesday’s American Morning viewers shared their appreciation for CNN’s in-depth coverage of the Iranian protests. Many felt Senator McCain’s opinions about Iran and heath care were no longer significant.

  • Alba: Thank you, CNN, for your relentless coverage of the recent Iranian civil unrest. The passionate, non-violent, majority's voice will always echo throughout history. The future generations will hear it! I make a plea to the praying intercessors all over the world. Pray for God's imminent healing of the physical and emotional wounds of the Iranian people!
  • Navid: I hear a number of your viewers say that we need to stay out of Iran issues. The thing I want to bring to their attention is that this same regime that the people are fighting is the reason we are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. If this regime is ousted the sooner we could have our troops back home.
  • Avesta: The Islamic Regime is doing what Islamic Barbarians did 1400 years ago, burn books, hate our history, culture, enslave, rape & kill Persians. we promise they are Arab occupiers and feel nothing about Persians that is why they are sending our oil revenue to Hamas and Hezbollah.

What do you think about Senator McCain’s position on Iran? How do you feel about the viewer asking that the U.S. get involved in the situation?


Filed under: We Listen
June 24th, 2009
02:21 PM ET

South Carolina governor admits extramarital affair

Update, 2:44 p.m.

(CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, just back from a secret trip to Argentina unknown to his staff or his wife, admitted Wednesday he has carried on an extramarital affair.

"I've been unfaithful to my wife," Sanford told a news conference in Columbia, the state capital. "I developed a relationship with what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina." His voice choking at times, Sanford apologized to his wife and four sons, his staff and supporters, and said he would resign immediately as head of the Republican Governors Association.

The affair was discovered five months ago, Sanford said.


Filed under: Controversy • Politics
June 24th, 2009
11:12 AM ET

Healthcare nightmare

President Obama says he's confident he'll get a plan in place that will drive down the crushing cost of health care for Americans who have it while helping the millions who don't.

CNN’s Jim Acosta has the story of a Texas woman who says her insurance company tried to sentence her to death.

Filed under: Health
June 24th, 2009
11:03 AM ET

Nixon tapes revealed

Former President Richard Nixon's library has just released a collection of memos and tapes including more conversations on Watergate and a revealing 1973 conversation about President Nixon's views on abortion just after the Supreme Court ruled on Roe V. Wade.

CNN's Elaine Quijano has the report.

Filed under: Controversy
June 24th, 2009
10:18 AM ET

American detained in Iran

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Michelle May speaks to CNN's Kiran Chetry about being detained by the Basij in Tehran."]

Michelle May is an American and Irish national who was detained in Tehran this past Saturday during the election aftermath. She shared her experience with CNN’s "American Morning" live from Dubai Wednesday.

Kiran Chetry: So you had quite an interesting and at times terrifying experience in Tehran. This was your third trip to Iran. Tell us what happened when you went and what happened.

Michelle May: Kiran, I went because I had been there two times before and I feel very connected to the country and the people there. I have a lot of friends. So when I was watching the election, the run-up to the election and the election results, I just felt a real need to be there with my friends and I just wanted to be a part of what could possibly be history. So I made arrangements at the last minute.

Chetry: You had an Irish passport and you arrived days before those protests started. Explain what happened when you said you were riding in a cab. Your taxi was stopped, you were pulled from that taxi and you were questioned.

May: Yes. I was in a net cafe prior to that and this young man befriended me. I was trying to download CNN to find out – this is the day after the Ayatollah gave his prayer on Friday – I was trying to read about it on CNN and he was trying to help me. So he helped me hail a taxi to meet a friend for lunch. About half-an-hour into that ride the next thing I know, there are two motorbikes on either side of my taxi. He's on the back of one of them and three Basij guys are on the other and they pulled me over and I knew what was happening.

Of course I was terrified and I immediately started screaming saying "No, no, no." He got into the taxi, the one who spoke English, and he told me I need to get out and go with them and so I stood up to get out of the taxi, but then I thought I’ll make a scene on the street, maybe they'll leave me alone. However, that didn't work. I think because everyone's just terrified of the Basij right now. So they took me by either arm and they put me into a car that had pulled up. Then I was with them for a little bit over an hour.


Filed under: Iran
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