Paris 30 June – 3 July 2023

Onward to a Democratic Republic

Panel Discussion – Friday 30 June 2023 17.30-18.45 hrs.

Disinformation and its impact on policy regarding Iran

In my most recent book, ‘DICTATORSHIP AND REVOLUTION – Iran – a contemporary history’, I wrote a chapter entitled ‘DEMONIZING THE OPPOSITION’, in which I listed the mullahs’ tactics of spreading lies and defamations about the MEK and the NCRI. I cited various examples like the article that appeared in the French daily newspaper, Libération, in November 2021, in which they said the MEK was an “Islamic-Marxist group” who “sided with Saddam Hussein” during the Iran/Iraq war, and that the MEK has “been on the lists of terrorist organizations in the United States and in Europe for years.” As usual, this was all lies and tired and weary propaganda, fed into the system by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), a sinister KGB-style organization that is itself on the US and EU terrorist lists. But left-wing press like Der Spiegel in Germany, and the Guardian and Channel 4 News in the UK, have all published outrageous stories traducing the MEK and the Iranian dissidents who currently reside at Ashraf 3 in Albania. 

In early 2016 as groups of Iranian opposition activists were being transferred from Iraq to Albania, the Iranians suddenly took an interest in this Balkan enclave, massively expanding their embassy with the addition of 25 intelligence agents and spies. Under the guidance of their new ambassador, a former high-ranking MOIS official, they focused their attention on elements of the Western media, to ramp up a smear campaign against the MEK. Now, with thousands of parliamentarians showing their support for the people’s uprising in Iran and for the main democratic organization the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), including 117 formed world leaders, the mullahs have gone into a frenzied overdrive. In a 90-minute phone call to President Macron of France, Ebrahim Raisi – the butcher of Tehran – has persuaded him to ban a mass rally of Iranian dissidents in Paris this weekend. Macron is an arch appeaser of the mullahs, happy to surrender to the criminal blackmail of the theocratic regime, who are holding 4 French hostages on trumped up charges. 

Of course, the other arch appeaser of the mullahs is President Biden, who seems to think that he can somehow resurrect the zombie nuclear deal with Iran if he lifts sanctions on the pariah regime. He seems blissfully unaware of the fact that the mullahs used the JCPOA for years as a cover for their clandestine program to build a nuclear weapon and they will continue to do so. Lifting sanctions will simply enable the mullahs to continue funding Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Shi’ia militia in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, as well as lining their own pockets. The starving millions in Iran will not benefit from a single cent. Biden even succumbed to the regime’s demands by putting pressure on the Albanian government to mount a shocking and illegal attack by over 1200 police on Ashraf 3 in Albania, using rubber truncheons, pepper spray and tear gas to terrorize the 3000 MEK men and women who live there, killing one and leaving more than 100 hospitalized. This was a scandalous episode, and the fingerprints of Biden, the arch appeaser, are all over it.

But the appeasers have always been more than happy to subscribe to the mullahs’ demonization tactics against the NCRI/MEK. In the UK, they find ready support from the likes Channel 4 News and the Guardian, who have run smear stories targeting the Iranian refugees in Albania, likening them to a cult and claiming they lived in a tightly secured military compound. One article even alleged that they had kidnapped and murdered some of their own supporters. The claims were preposterous and easily disproved. Far from being an alleged prison, the compound in Manza employed more than 600 local Albanians daily. Thousands of relatives of the refugees who had been prevented from seeing them in Iraq for years, had flown to Albania and visited the camp. Lawyers, politicians, and human rights activists were and still are regular visitors to Ashraf 3. I’ve been there several times myself. But none of this was reported by Channel 4 News and the Guardian. 

But after working closely with the MEK and NCRI for more than two decades, I am accustomed to this sort of egregious behavior and after the Albanians uncovered further plots by the Iranian ambassador and his gang to organize bomb plots, assassinations and cyberattacks, the embassy was finally closed, and the so-called diplomats expelled. It was an example that the rest of us should follow.

Our assertions have been completely vindicated by the recent mass hacking of files from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran. The mountain of leaked confidential information reveals that a so-called "former member of the MEK," who was interviewed by Der Spiegel, was actually an agent of the Iranian regime. 

Gholamreza Shekari was hired by the MOIS to pose as an opponent of the regime and spread disinformation to demonize the Iranian resistance. In February 2019, Der Spiegel published an article titled "Prisoners of the Rebellion," in which they interviewed Shekari under the guise of a "former member of the MEK." He claimed that he was tortured by the MEK and made several accusations against the organization and the NCRI. One leaked document contains a letter from Shekari's mother, who refers to him proudly as a collaborator of the MOIS. She requests that the Foreign Ministry facilitate her son’s return to Iran, citing that he has been cooperating closely with the MOIS, and has taken risks to try to get others to defect from the MEK and he has exposed the "terrorist nature of the MEK publicly”. 

The demonization machinery is still at work. The regime has infiltrated their agents into the very heart of our western democracies. In the European Parliament, every time we tabled a motion criticizing the mullahs, the senior advisor to the Socialist group on Middle Eastern affairs, Eldar Mamedov, a Latvian with Iranian origins, always briefed against us and put down pro-regime amendments. We always assumed he was in the pocket of the mullahs, but we could never prove it. Then, lo and behold, along came the Qatargate corruption scandal and when the police seized Mamedov’s bank accounts, sure enough they found that he was being paid by Tehran. He was dismissed from the S&D group and the EP and has left Belgium. He was the Iranian regime's main agent in the European Parliament for 15 years. A very corrupt and evil man, more like a Pasdar – an IRGC member.