Accessibility links

Breaking News

Persian Letters

Mahmud Alavi in an address to parliament
Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmud Alavi says there is "no need" for media to publish details of cases of economic corruption.

Alavi, who was speaking on January 14 to Iran's semiofficial Mehr news agency, added that the coverage of corruption cases by the media could hurt investment in the country.

"There is no need to publish instances of action against corruption in the media," Alavi told Mehr. "Covering these cases affects investment's security instead of harnessing corruption."

It wasn't clear whether the comments would lead to more red lines for Iran's newspapers, which already face limitations in what and how they can cover sensitive issues, including the nuclear dossier.

In recent weeks, Iranian press and websites have been publishing details of alleged business dealings by Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani, who was arrested late last month for what has been described as "financial crimes."

His arrest came following an order by President Hassan Rohani to fight financial corruption particularly among "privileged figures" who have taken advantage of economic sanctions Iran is facing over its sensitive nuclear program.

Zanjani has been accused of evading sanctions through his network of companies in Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Tajikistan. Zanjani, who is reportedly being held at Tehran's Evin prison, has been blacklisted by the United States and the European Union.

READ more about Zanjani here

When asked about Zanjani's case and whether his ministry has sent a report to the judiciary, Alavi gave a vague answer: "A case is being reviewed by the judiciary, until this body issues a verdict, someone who has been merely charged with a crime, should not be presented as a criminal and be reflected as such in the media."

Alavi also said he couldn't comment on whether his ministry has reported on an alleged criminal case against 24 members of the previous government. "I can't comment on this yet," he said.

In 2012, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told media "not to drag out" on financial corruption. Khamenei was speaking about the Islamic republic's largest bank-fraud case, which was estimated at $2.6 billion.

--Golnaz Esfandiari
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, 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

Load more

About This Blog

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.


Latest Posts