Posts Tagged ‘Der Spiegel’

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Regime Apologist Publishes Falsehoods and Propaganda Against MEK

Statement by Members of MEK Denounce DER Spiegel Hit Piece Against Iran’s Main Opposition

Spiegel hit piece against MEK

Spiegel published a full of lies story about MEK, Iran’s main opposition force, raising an outrage among the Iranian communities-February 2019

The ruling regime in Iran uses social media networks and international newspapers and magazines to spread mistruths and lies concerning the Iranian opposition movement. Along with state-sponsored terror, the clerical regime uses it as a weapon to undermine and discredit the opposition and sway public opinion against the principal opposition, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

In a statement published recently, a group of members of the MEK based in Albania emphasize that the defamatory accusations made by Der Spiegel will only prepare the ground for terrorism against MEK, Iran’s principal opposition, especially in Albania. Members of MEK ask all supporters of democracy and those who combat against terrorism to protest against Der Spiegel that has fallen to “the most disgraceful mouthpieces of the Iranian regime.”

The latest hit piece, an article published in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine entitled “Prisoners of Their Own Rebellion”, spouted a list of usual regime talking points and falsehoods. The allegations cited in the piece have been publicly discrediting numerous times, including by international courts, political figures, and legislative bodies.

Shoddy Journalism

The statement of the members of the MEK says, Der Spiegel recently suffered a journalism scandal when an editor, Claas Relotius, was caught fabricating stories. Now, just weeks later, further questions have been asked of the publication’s journalistic integrity.

The magazine published its hit piece against the MEK after interviewing sources within the regime and affiliates of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). A trainee correspondent spent time in Iran with the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basij forces.

The MEK extended an invitation to the magazine’s editor, offering to permit its journalists to visit the MEK’s compound in Albania. Despite persistent invitations, Der Spiegel declined, preferring instead to write its piece on the opposition group without speaking to anyone from the organization itself.           

The end result was a piece lacking fundamental accuracy. It demonized the MEK and ignored the regime’s widespread and rampant human rights abuses. There was no mention of the 12,000 political executions, 500 plotted terror attacks abroad, and massacres of MEK members carried out by the regime.

Laying the Groundwork for a New Massacre

The hit piece is more than just an example of shoddy and inaccurate journalism. By demonizing the MEK, the Iranian regime is able to lay the groundwork for a new massacre, much like those that took place in 1988 when the regime killed 30,000 MEK members, and those that happened at Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf in Iraq, states the MEK members in their statement.

If it can rob the MEK of its support through slanderous hit pieces like those that have appeared in Der Spiegel and The Guardian, the regime believes it will be able to kill and maim MEK members across the globe with impunity.

Iranian Incentives Inspire Der Spiegel Writers

The only explanation behind Der Spiegel’s deliberate and contrived rejection of even basic journalistic fact-checking principles is that the regime offered tantalizing incentives in exchange for Der Spiegel turning a blind-eye to the facts.

For example, in the piece, Der Spiegel alleges that former MEK members have described how the group regular practices slitting throats and jabbing out eyeballs. However, the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has repeatedly warned that the MOIS recruits former MEK members and coerced them into publicly criticizing the group. The MEK sent Der Spiegel’s editor the BfV’s findings, however, these falsehoods still appeared in the final article.

Why Der Spiegel is Little More than a Regime Mouthpiece

The testimonies of the so-called “defectors” also expose glaring holes in their narrative. For example, Gholamreza Shekari, one of the “defectors” interviewed in the article, claimed the MEK tortured him in 1994. However, he remained with the MEK until 2016, despite meeting regularly with officials from the US, Iraq, the UN and the UNHCR. If we wanted to leave and the group’s members had “tortured” him, as he claims, why would he not leave sooner?

The statement of the member of MEK stationed at Ashraf III in Albania, calls on the international community to stand against the promulgation of lies and inaccuracies wherever they occur. Der Spiegel must be called out for publishing such an inflammatory and damaging piece, and it should be warned that in publishing a piece of this nature, it is complicit in the regime’s human rights abuses and international terrorism.

Staff Writer

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Protests in Iran

Der Spiegel’s Reporting Makes Them Accomplices in the Regime’s Human Rights Abuses

Protests in Iran

Archive photo-Demonstrations in front of the offices of the education ministry in protest to the government’s lack of response to their demands.-January 2019

Under increasing pressure at home, the Iranian regime has intensified its misinformation campaign against the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). The Iranian regime faces widespread protests each and every day. Since Sunday, there have been nine protests across the country attacking the mullahs’ mismanagement of the economy, soaring inflation, and unpaid wages.

These are the latest developments in a wave of protests that have washed across Iran over the last 14 months. What began in a nationwide uprising at the tail end of 2017, shows no sign of letting up.

An “army of hungry and unemployed” Iranians are taking to the streets and calling for regime change. Youth unemployment is above 50%, Iranian purchasing power is falling, and wages are stagnating. Iranians are struggling to put food on the table, meanwhile, the mullahs are living lavish lifestyles, funneling money to militia and terrorist groups abroad, and spending vast sums on clandestine missile programs.

The Regime Looks Outward

Rather than look inward at its own failings, the clerical regime has looked outwards and responded to the intensifying protest movement by cracking down on political opponents. As sanctions start to bite, targeting the regime’s oil revenue and crippling its finances, the regime has intensified its attacks on the MEK, the largest and most organized pro-democracy group who has played a crucial role in mobilizing the population.

The regime has deployed a misinformation campaign targeting the opposition group. Last year, Twitter removed 770 regime-affiliated accounts that the mullahs were using to spread disinformation about the MEK. A separate investigation from Reuters found that the Iranian regime used more than 70 websites to spread anti-MEK propaganda across the world, many of which are still in operation today.

Regime Hit Pieces

The mullahs’ latest attacks have come through Western media outlets. Its most recent hit piece against the MEK has published in German magazine Der Spiegel. As with previous hit pieces, including one published last year in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the regime uses former members of the MEK to spread lies and deceit about the group, often touting the frequently disproved claim the MEK is a violent group that keeps members against their will.

The pieces usually allege that the MEK is not a threat to the regime and does not command the support of the Iranian population. This begs the question if the MEK is not a threat, why does the regime devout such resources and time to attacking them online, in print, and through violent terror attacks and assassinations?

The regime’s most recent propaganda piece in Der Spiegel made no less than 60 false claims against the MEK. Its publication raises questions, not only about the regime’s conduct but the journalists and editors that failed to carry out even basic fact-checking procedures. If they had vetted the information, they would have found that many of the allegations and baseless lies have been debunked many times in courts around the world.

Distracting the Global Media

What is perhaps more troubling is that while the world’s media laps up the regime’s bile and propaganda, frequent and severe human rights abuses are going unreported in Iran. Political, environmental, and human rights activists suffer attacks, arbitrary detention, and torture at the hands of the regime’s agents, yet the international media let them pass unnoticed.

The regime has a rich history of repressing, silencing, and exploiting its population. Iran has endured 40 years of regime rule and has come to expect it from the mullahs. But now, the international media and Der Spiegel is doing the same thing. Repeating the regime’s lies and failing to hold the mullahs to account for blatant and barbaric human rights abuses is tantamount to being an accomplice in these human rights abuses.

It is the international media’s role to give voice to the downtrodden and stand up for justice. Instead, in its most recent piece, Der Spiegel gave voice to the oppressors and only served to tighten the shackles the Iranian people find themselves in.

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Spiegel is part of Iranian regime's propaganda against MEK

“The Cult-Like Group Fighting Iran” is Fake News by Der Spiegel

Spiegel is part of Iranian regime's propaganda against MEK

The Spiegel Magazine joins Iranian regime’s propaganda machine against Iran’s main democratic opposition the MEK. The Iranian communities expressed their outrage over the lies and fabrications reported by Der Spiegel-February 2019

Der Spiegel’s Hit Piece: Shoddy Journalism or Evidence of a Conflict of Interest?

As the dust settles on the Warsaw conference and the Iranian regime are forced to come to terms with the US’s concerted efforts to build a united international front against Iranian regime aggression, regime allies are intensifying attacks on the Iranian opposition.

Over 65 world leaders gathered in Warsaw to discuss ways of containing the Iranian threat and bring stability to the Middle East and the wider region. On the sidelines of the conference, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the largest and most influential Iranian pro-democracy group, organized rallies and protests against the regime and its four-decade hold on Iranian politics.

High-profile political figures from around the world turned out to support the MEK, including former New York Mayor and Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The size and scale of the rallies, as well as the support they drew, drew international attention to the MEK and the leader of Iran opposition, president-elect Maryam Rajavi.

While this was a major step forward for Iranian democracy and the opposition movement, the increased profile of the opposition group caused a ripple of concern among the Iranian regime.

A Fearful Regime

The more international recognition the MEK and the Iranian opposition get, the more fearful the regime becomes. The group represents the most viable alternative to regime rule. Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan outlines a clear plan of action for installing a democratic government in Iran following the fall of the regime. The group’s very existence is a threat to the regime’s future survival.

As shockwaves of concern spread across the regime in the aftermath of the Warsaw conference, the regime’s allies intensified its attempts to publicly demonize the MEK and the Iranian opposition.

Spiegel Online or a Mouthpiece for Iran’s Dictatorship

These attempts cumulated in an article published from Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. Entitled “Gefangene der Rebellion”, the article was a hit-piece designed to sway public opinion against the MEK and curb its rising popularity.

The article’s claims are the same as those that have previously been touted by the Iranian regime, many of which have been publicly disproved on numerous occasions.

A German Delegation Visits the MEK Compound in Albania

However, the most concerning aspect of Der Spiegel’s article is not the mistruths and lies present in the text, but the complete lack of basic journalistic integrity and abandonment of journalistic principles. In the wake of the magazine’s recent Claas Relotius revelations (in which a prominent writer and journalist was found to have fabricated interviews with sources and experiences in his articles), the magazine has evidently not improved its fact-checking and information gathering practices.

This is all the more concerning considering that Der Spiegel publicly apologized following the Relotius scandal and maintained that the magazine was working to tighten its internal vetting and fact-checking processes.

A Flawed Fact-Gathering Process

An analysis of the magazine’s fact-finding process exposes a lack of journalistic integrity and the absence of even basic journalistic principles.

The writer interviewed regime affiliates, members of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS), and ex-members of the MEK, all of whom have a clear anti-MEK agenda, yet did not confer with the MEK itself, Albanian authorities, or international politicians that have visited the MEK’s compounds to verify any of the MOIS and regime allies’ claims.

The MEK reached out to Der Spiegel and invited the magazine to the group’s compound in Albania to see how the group lives. The magazine declined the offer, preferring instead to rely on regime accounts.

Similarly, the reporter interviewed the father of 38-year old Somayeh Mohammadi, who claims his daughter is being held by the MEK against her will. Not only are the claims untrue (Mohammadi has his claims dismissed by an Albanian court following a full hearing) but Somayeh has often spoken to journalists and politicians, including former Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson, about how the claims are inaccurate and her father is a regime agent.

A Conflict of Interest?

At best, the article exposes a lack of integrity. However, many are speculating that there may be something more contrived afoot. The reporter allegedly lived in Iran for several months before writing the article. They also reportedly spent time with the Basij militia, a regime-affiliated militia organization. Given that the reporter declined to do the same with the MEK, it could be indicative of a severe conflict of interest.

More concerningly, on November 24, part of the article appeared on a website affiliated with the MOIS, with the addendum that the full article was published in Der Spiegel, although the full article had not yet been published. This indicates a deep level of collaboration between the Iranian regime and the reporter. It indicates that the regime itself had access to parts of the article long before it appeared in print.

As the MEK gathers momentum, both at home and abroad, and the Iranian regime finds itself confronted by a highly-mobilized and determined Iranian population, it feels its only chance of survival is to attack the Iranian opposition.

Der Spiegel’s latest article must be seen for what it is: the latest regime attempt to vilify and undermine its political opponents and silence dissent. It is nothing more than a political weapon to curb the rising popularity of the MEK. But the MEK is not the only victim. International journalism suffers when the Iranian regime uses it as a propaganda mouthpiece.

As long as international media outlets are unprepared to install rigorous fact-checking and editing standards, disinformation and lies will be allowed to propagate.

Staff Writer

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