MEK Iran: Regime Uses its Agents to Parrot Talking Points
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), reported that the U.S. Representative Yvette Herrell and eight fellow congress members this month penned a letter to the Department of Justice requesting the identity and prosecution of Americans who have been paid to secretly promote the Iranian regime’s agenda.
Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi
The request stems from the January arrest of Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, an Iranian-American political scientist who is accused of failing to register as a foreign asset before writing news articles and opinion pieces on Iranian affairs, one of which was published in the New York Times.
Afrasiabi was arrested when investigators discovered he had allegedly received payment of approximately $265,000 from the Iranian regime for his work.
The tip of the iceberg
Unfortunately, Afrasiabi is only the tip of the iceberg. Just over a year ago, three U.S. senators wrote to the Department of Justice with concerns about the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a well-known lobbying group. The letter described a pattern of NIAC activities, including promoting regime talking points and facilitating meetings between U.S. congress members and Iranian officials.
It further characterized the NIAC as a group whose “innocuous public branding masks troubling behavior” and asked that “the Department of Justice evaluate whether an investigation of NIAC is warranted for potential FARA violations and to ensure transparency regarding foreign attempts to influence the U.S. political process.”
The NIAC has continued its activities unabated
The NIAC has continued its activities unabated, as evidenced in an op/ed written in USA Today on Monday by NIAC senior research analyst Sina Toosi, which mimicked the Iranian regime’s talking points on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Toosi first criticized the Biden administration for its failure to “firmly break” with Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy of applying sanctions to the regime before parroting Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s statement that “the diplomatic door will close” if the United States does not join the European signatories to the deal in offering concessions to the regime for its cooperation.
Iranian expatriate Hadi Sani-Khani
In February, Iranian expatriate Hadi Sani-Khani sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General detailing a Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) scheme to recruit former MEK members to spread disinformation about the resistance organization. According to his letter, Sani-Kano joined the MEK in 2003 and then left the group in 2016 after relocating to Albania with a small group of MEK members who had been living in Iraq. Hadi-Sani was approached by MOIS agents weeks after leaving the MEK and coerced into working for the MOIS as a purveyor of disinformation against the MEK.
Khodabandeh has been confirmed as an MOIS agent
Sani-Khani wrote that he and others like him were paid to write editorials and make frequent media appearances as “former MEK members.” As former members, any claims made were given credibility, despite having been manufactured by the MOIS.
Sani-Khani included a list of people associated with these activities. Among them was Massoud Khodabandeh, a known MOIS agent living in London who is still sometimes credited as an independent analyst in some Western media outlets. Khodabandeh has been confirmed as an MOIS agent by U.S. intelligence but continues to spread misinformation about the MEK.
Evidence and documents
“As a living witness, I can testify in any court that these interviews and articles all stem from the designs and plans of the Ministry of Intelligence,” Sani-Khani said, referring to the propaganda disseminated by “former MEK members over a four-year period.
He also offered to provide “evidence and documents” to corroborate his story and build a case to investigate other instances of Iranian regime disinformation.