The Regime Finds Another Willing Mouthpiece in Norway
Several weeks ago, members of the Iranian resistance group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), noticed an individual acting strangely near their compound. The stranger was Eskil Engdal a “journalist” working for Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv.
The journalist was in Albania with Gjergji Thanasi, a regime-affiliate with ties to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). The pair were lurking around the residential settlement, taking photos of the entrance gate and ignoring signs stating that photo and video recording on the premises was prohibited. When approached by the Albanian security team, the pair refused to stop taking photos.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) June 4, 2019
A History of Terror
To understand the inherent danger and suspicion in the pairs’ activities, we have to look to 2018. Over the course of the 18 months, the regime has aggressively hunted MEK members, planning terror attacks and assassinations against their ranks.
Last year, during the Persian New Year celebrations, the Albanian authorities thwarted a regime-sponsored terror attack on the MEK compound. Just a few months later, the regime again sought to carry out a terror attack against the MEK, this time in Paris at the group’s annual Grand Gathering.
The Iranian regime has pursued and attacked the MEK at every turn. Its members have been the target of plots and assassinations in the US, and the EU.
Aiding and Abetting the Regime’s Terror Agenda
This suspicious behavior prompted the MEK’s legal team in Ashraf 3 (MEK’s residence in Albania) to write to the editor-in-chief of the paper. It read: “We would respectfully ask you not to allow your newspaper and journalist to become unwantedly tools of the Mullah’s regimes to enhance its objectives and prepare the grounds for assassinations of the Iranian refugees in Albania”.
Additionally, representatives from the MEK’s umbrella organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), penned a letter to the Norwegian Justice Minister on May 27th.
If the reporter had wanted to gain access to the compound and produce an impartial, unbiased story about the Iranian opposition group, why did Eskil Engdal not contact the organization? Why would he arrive in the country with an MOIS agent?
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) June 5, 2019
If he had contacted the MEK, he would have been able to gather source material that disproved the lies fed to him by MOIS agents. He would have been made aware of the relentless demonization campaigns against the MEK that the Iranian regime carries out each year. He would have been aware of the slaughter of MEK members that have taken place within Iran, including the summer of 1988 when the regime killed more than 30,000 MEK members across the country.
Even if he did not wish to reach out to the MEK, he could have spoken to impartial authorities in the UK or Europe. Instead, he spoke to known regime affiliates and lobbyists. He could have referred to the North Rhine Westfalen State office for the Protection of the Constitution in Germany, which concluded in 2017: “These agents conduct espionage, disseminate false information, and recruit new spies. In the last four years, in particular, they have been spying on members of the Iranian opposition who have been transferred from Iraq to Europe as part of a humanitarian project.”
A Mouthpiece for Regime Lies
The fact that Eskil Engdal did none of these things suggests the work of a regime mouthpiece designed to spout the regime’s poisonous and violent ideology and promote its political objectives in the international media.
In publishing propaganda and lies, Eskil Engdal could become an active participant in the regime’s demonization campaign, paving the way for further terror attacks and legitimizing violence against MEK members.
The international media must learn that to publish the regime’s lies without scrutiny or due diligence is not only an affront to the principles of a free, independent media, but it emboldens the regime to continue to carry out terror attacks against an already persecuted Iranian opposition.