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A graphic published by the Iranian semiofficial Fars agency to illustrate the so-called link between U.S. foreign policy, Hitler, and extraterrestrial beings.
Iran's semiofficial news agency Fars has once again provided ammunition to those critics who refer to the hard-line news outlet as "False" news.

Fars has reposted a report on its English website that claims the foreign and domestic policies of the United States have been driven by an "extraterrestrial intelligence agenda" since 1945.

Fars says documents released by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden provide "incontrovertible proof" that the "secret regime" ruling America was created after extraterrestrials -- referred to as "Tall Whites" -- met in 1954 with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The report was first posted by the absurdly eccentric website whatdoesitmean.com, which has a reputation for peddling outlandish disinformation.

The article asserts that "Tall Whites" were also behind the rise of Nazi Germany, and it goes on to claim that the aliens are still hell-bent on global domination:

"...[T]he “Tall White” agenda being implemented by the "secret regime" ruling the United States calls for the creation of a global electronic surveillance system meant to hide all true information about their presence here on earth as they enter into what one of Snowden's documents calls the “final phase” of their end plan for total assimilation and world rule."

To drive the point home, Fars has even created a special graphic of U.S. President Barack Obama next to Adolf Hitler against the backdrop of an American flag with a presumed alien life form staring at the reader.

Iranian media have a record of publishing conspiracy theories and satirical reports as serious pieces of information.

In September, Fars published "news" that a Gallup poll found that rural white Americans preferred Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Barack Obama.

The origin of the poll was the satirical website "The Onion," but Fars posted it as hard news without crediting the source. The agency later acknowledged its "mistake."

Following Fars's widely reported error, "The Onion" referred to the hard-line news agency as "our Iranian subsidiary."

In June, Mehr, another semiofficial Iranian news agency, claimed in a report that Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was Jewish. Mehr even alleged that she was secretly baptized so she could marry Prince William, who is second in line to the British throne:

"The truth is that the Royal Family's new bride is a Jew. Although in the wedding ceremony it was pretended that Kate Middleton is Christian but this lady's family roots show that she is considered a Sephardic Jew from her mother's side. Moreover the timing of the wedding and the way it was held which was based on Jewish culture verify the evidences."

In October, Iran's English-language Press TV reposted on its website a report that insinuated that Pakistani education activist Malala Yousefzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban, was actually a fraud. The report was later removed from the website.

In 2010, Press TV aired a documentary produced by state-controlled television that claimed Neda Agha Soltan, a protester who was shot dead during the 2009 postelection crackdown and became an icon of dissent, was an agent of the United States and Britain whose death was staged.

Iranian state TV is known for airing unfounded accusations against political activists. The outlet has also aired forced confessions by activists over the years.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
Ali Motahari said that if members of Iran's parliament are prevented from criticizing the judiciary, then "they should close down the parliament."
Lawmaker Ali Motahari is one of the very few insiders in the Islamic republic who openly criticizes the system he is a part of. Motahari is now in hot water for apparently going too far in his criticism.

In a December 30 speech in the Iranian parliament, Motahari blasted the house arrest of opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi as illegal and anti-Islamic.

He also criticized the "harsh" sentences for those arrested in the 2009 crackdown that followed the disputed reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad and added that the former president should be put on trial along with Musavi and Karrubi, who challenged his reelection.

He said those arrested in the 2009 unrest should have an open trial. "As long as one side doesn't have the right to express itself and the other side says whatever it wants, this crisis will not be resolved," he said.

In his speech, Motahari pointed to an open secret: he suggested that Iran's powerful judiciary is not independent, a charge judiciary officials have repeatedly denied.

"Instead of chanting slogans about the sedition [the 2009 protests over Ahmadinejad's reelection], it would be better if the head of the judiciary would try to resolve it. The resolving of [the issue] requires an independent judiciary, not one that is influenced by this and that body and security and intelligence organs," he said.

The Tehran prosecutor's office said over the weekend of January 4-5 that it had launched a criminal case against the outspoken Motahari over his speech. In a statement issued by Iranian news agencies, prosecutor Jafar Dolatabadi said that Motahari's remarks on the need for an independent judiciary implies "insult" against judges.

The semi-official hard-line Fars news agency said that Motahari had been summoned to the Revolutionary Court for explanations. No date was announced.

Meanwhile, Iranian news agencies reported that Motahari's personal website was blocked inside the country.

Motahari responded by accusing the judiciary of an attempt to silence its critics. He said that according to the Iranian Constitution, it is his right as a member of parliament to comment on the country's affairs. He called the judiciary's action "illegal."

"If members of the parliament are prevented from speaking about such issues, they should close down the parliament," he said.

Motahari, the son of one of the founders of the Islamic republic, has also in the past criticized pressure on reformist figures and opposition members and called for the release of political prisoners. He has accused the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of having interfered in past parliamentary elections, and spoken against the arrest of journalists.

Last year Motahari said he had discovered surveillance equipment in his office.

Earlier this week, parliament speaker Ali Larijani, whose brother Sadeq is the head of the judiciary, said that although some of the claims made by Motahari were "untrue" and "humiliating," the filing of a criminal case against him by the prosecutor's office was unjustified.

In 2002 , then-lawmaker Hossein Loghmanian was put on trial and sentenced to prison for criticizing the judiciary. He was released after an outcry among his colleagues, including former parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi, who threatened to resign.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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