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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.

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Spiegel is part of Iranian regime's propaganda against MEK

Former Vice-President of the European Parliament: The Regime Spouts “a Laundry List of Baseless Accusations” Against the MEK

Spiegel is part of Iranian regime's propaganda against MEK

The Spiegel Magazine joins the 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

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish professor of atomic and nuclear physics and a former vice-president of the European Parliament, published an op-ed for the Eurasia Review. His op-ed highlights the Iranian regime’s obsession with the democratic opposition and the extraordinary lengths it will go to discredit and vilify them in the international media.

His op-ed comes just weeks after German magazine, Der Spiegel, published a hit piece against the largest democratic opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). Vidal-Quadras described how the magazine “repeated a laundry list of lies and baseless accusations against the group’s “war footing” and its treatment of more than 2,000 members now living in Albania.”

A Demonization Campaign Across International Media

Vidal-Quadras expressed concern that those reading Der Spiegel’s article who are not familiar with the Iranian regime and its blatant attempts to discredit pro-democracy groups in Iran and abroad would fall victim to believing the regime’s lies. “They do not realize that every item on the list can be traced back to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and other purveyors of Iranian propaganda,” he said. Since the regime’s inception, the mullahs have devoted time and resources to spreading falsehoods and lies about the MEK and its members.

The regime has systematically rounded up and killed members of the MEK. In 1988 alone, the regime killed around 30,000 MEK members, burying them in unmarked mass graves. But according to Vidal-Quadras, events like the 1988 massacre “only scratch the surface of the Iranian regime’s violence against political dissenters.” In total, more than 100,000 members of the Iranian opposition have met their end at the hands of the regime. Many were tortured in custody, then hanged. In many cases, they were assassinated by agents while living in exile abroad.

The regime has also coordinated terrorist attacks against the MEK. Last year, a Belgian-Iranian couple was arrested while traveling to the MEK’s Grand Gathering event in Paris with homemade explosives. The regime also coordinated terror plots against the MEK in Albania and the US.

The MEK: A Threat to the Regime’s Future in Power

Vidal-Quadras explains the regime’s obsession with the democratic opposition as the result of a deep concern over the capabilities of the MEK. The group has drawn a great deal of international support. At its annual Grand Gathering event, it draws crowds of more than 100,000 supporters and high-profile political figures from across the globe, including Trump’s personal lawyer and former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani.

Within Iran, the MEK has a vast network of resistance cells across Iran’s towns and cities. The group was responsible for coordinating many of the protests that quickly spread across Iran in 2018. Its groups counter the regime’s lies, oppression, violence, and human rights abuses wherever they occur and enjoy widespread popularity across the Iranian population, especially among young Iranians.

Vidal-Quadras concludes, “in contrast to the picture that Tehran has tried to paint of the Iranian democratic opposition, the NCRI (and MEK) President Maryam Rajavi has outlined a 10-point plan for the country’s future.” In her plan, Maryam Rajavi provides a detailed roadmap for the country’s transition to democracy, including the holding of free elections, respect for human rights, the separation of religion and state, and a commitment to gender and ethnic equality.

Finally, Vidal-Quadras calls on governments across the world to lend their support. “It is time for our governments to recognize the NCRI as the democratic alternative to the ruling religious dictatorship in Iran.”

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Maryam Rajavi addresses the French MPs in a conference held at the Parliament building.

Maryam Rajavi Addresses Conference entitled “Iran Perspectives: 2019”

Maryam Rajavi addresses the French MPs in a conference held at the Parliament building.

Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian opposition, addressed MPs and attendees at the Conference, “Iran Perspective 2019” held at Colbert Hall in the French Parliament building-February 21, 2019

On Thursday, the Parliamentary Committee for a Democratic Iran at the French National Assembly held a conference, entitled “Iran Perspectives: 2019.”  The event called for a firm policy in Europe toward the Iranian regime in light of its terrorist activities on European soil and its human rights abuses of its own people.

French Committee of Parliamentarians for a Free Iran Holds a Conference Discussing Future Policy Towards Iran

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi was one of several speakers at the conference. In her speech, she refuted the idea that moderates exist in the Iranian regime, then discussed the regime’s terrorist activities in Europe, the role of the MEK in the ongoing protests in Iran, and the regime’s demonization campaign against the MEK. She also urged the French government to recognize the right of the Iranian people to rise up and overthrow the mullahs’ regime and create a free Iran.

No “Moderate”

In her speech, Mrs. Rajavi said that many Western leaders initially saw regime President Hassan

Rouhani's record of terror and executions in Iran

Rouhani’s record on violations of human rights during his tenure.

Rouhani as a “moderate” who was “able to bring about positive change in the theocratic regime.” Mrs. Rajavi disputed this idea, saying, “It was under this pretext, that western governments gave great concessions to the mullahs’ religious dictatorship.”

Rajavi noted Rouhani’s record as regime President: “Thousands of executions; several massacres in camps Ashraf and Liberty where members of the PMOI/MEK used to reside; wasting of Iran’s revenues on fomenting wars in the region; terrorist operations by the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) which he commands; and the missile program of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). As a result of which the majority of the people of Iran have become destitute.”

Terrorist Activities

She then enumerated the many terrorist plots by the regime that have occurred under Rouhani’s leadership: “He assigned his Ministry of Intelligence and diplomats to launch a major terrorist operation against the Iranian Resistance’s grand gathering in Villepinte. The sanctions imposed on the mullahs’ Intelligence Ministry by France and the European Union further confirmed that Rouhani’s government was the perpetrator of the plot.

“Although their attack in France was ill-fated, they did not give up. They hatched further schemes. A terrorist plot in Denmark; an espionage and terrorist plot against members of the Iranian Resistance in the U.S.; espionage in the army of Germany and attacking the supporters of the Iranian Resistance in that country; and in March 2018, they failed in another major terrorist attack against a PMOI/MEK gathering in Albania.”

December 2017 Uprising

Mrs. Rajavi then described the uprising and subsequent nationwide protest movement that began in Iran in December 2017 and continues today, “drastically destabiliz[ing] the regime.” She further discussed the economic catastrophe facing the country in terms of high inflation, slow economic growth, and high unemployment. “These are the characteristics of the Iranian economy in the present circumstances,” she said. “It is reminiscent of a building on the verge of collapse. Nevertheless, the regime has increased its next year’s budget for military and security expenditures.”

MEK Resistance Units

Rajavi went on to discuss the MEK’s Resistance Units. “A new force has emerged to counter the mullahs, the Resistance Units. These units are made up of members and supporters of the Iranian Resistance. They come from among the younger and freedom-loving generation of Iranians.”

Mrs. Rajavi emphasized the influence that the Resistance Units have had on organizing the Iranian people in their anti-regime protests. “In the past year,” she said, “the Resistance Units have spread their anti-regime activities to dozens of cities across the country. They have turned into beacons of hope for the people of Iran.”

Demonization Campaign

The Iranian regime is very aware of the MEK’s power and influence, according to Mrs. Rajavi, and has stepped up its efforts to spread “falsities against the Iranian Resistance.”

“The theocratic regime ruling Iran spends exorbitant sums of money on creating a network of reporters who are friends of the Ministry of Intelligence,” said Mrs. Rajavi. “Through them, the regime deploys the foreign press against the Iranian Resistance to project that the regime does not have any alternatives and the interests of western countries are best served by dealing with their regime.”

End the Era of Appeasement

Mrs. Rajavi argued that it is clear that Rouhani is no moderate and that the time for appeasing Tehran is passed.

“Turning a blind eye to the Iranian Resistance is not only to the detriment of the people of Iran but also to the detriment of the Middle East and the world who are in this way deprived of the key to the Iranian problem,” Rajavi said.

She continued, “It is wrong to worry about regime change by the Iranian people and resistance. Iran will not crumble in the course of such change. Rather, the main obstacle to Iran’s progress and the main cause of wars and crisis in the region will thus be removed.”

Mrs. Rajavi urged the French government to recognize the right of the Iranian people to rise up against their oppressors and initiate a “bold policy” in the E.U. She described this policy as one that  “places France and Europe besides the people of Iran and would respect the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom and democracy. The right of the Iranian people’s Resistance to overthrow the mullahs’ religious dictatorship must be recognized.”

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the Iranian opposition, addressing the conference “Iran Perspective 2019” held at the French Assemblee Nationale building- February 21, 2019

Rajavi emphasized that the NCRI and the MEK represent a well-organized movement with a plan for the orderly transition to a peaceful democracy in Iran after the fall of the mullahs’ regime. “This is the message of the Iranian people’s liberating uprisings and the Resistance Units,” she said. “I must stress that our Resistance is an accountable, dedicated and qualified movement which has a modified plan for the future of Iran.”

Mrs. Rajavi concluded her speech with a brief description of the NCRI’s political platform, which forms the backbone of her ten-point plan for Iran’s democratic. future. She said, “We enjoy our people’s support in seeking to establish a republic based on the separation of religion and state, gender equality, the abolition of the death penalty, an independent judiciary, autonomy for ethnic groups, a foreign policy based on peaceful co-existence, and a non-nuclear Iran.”

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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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Regime Apologist Publishes Falsehoods and Propaganda Against MEK

Why Der Spiegel is Little More than a Regime Mouthpiece

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

Der Spiegel, a German magazine, published a hit piece against the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The piece, entitled “Prisoners of the Rebellion”, went to press on February 16 and contained a host of mistruths and lies about the Iranian opposition groups.

The article spouted the regime’s propaganda without meeting even the basic principles of journalistic integrity. The authors declined to visit the MEK’s compound in Albania and ignored correspondences with the NCRI in which the pro-democracy group sent documents disproving the regime’s allegations. Instead, the writers spent time with the regime’s Basij agents in Iran, interviewed members of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) disguised as former MEK members without dealing with the group itself directly.

Waiting for the Perfect Time

Nothing demonstrates that the piece was little more than a poorly-informed hatched job against the MEK more than the timing of the piece.

In a statement released following the article’s publication, the NCRI revealed that it had been in communication with Der Spiegel’s deputy foreign editor, Mr Mathieu von Rohr, who had confirmed that the article was due to be published on November 24, 2018.

The article’s publication was delayed until “a time that the Iranian regime needed such “support,” the NCRI’s statement read. The recent conference in Warsaw which saw more than 60 governments from nations around the world come together to explore ways of dealing with the Iranian threat clearly prompted Der Spiegel to believe that this was the time the regime needed the “support” the article could lend.

The article was immediately picked up by all the Iranian state-run media outlets, which centered their coverage on the baseless allegations that the MEK carried out massacres and brutal acts of torture at its base in Albania.

Snubbed Invitations

The NCRI’s statement shows that the MEK and the NCRI had been in contact with von Rohr in the run-up to the article’s publication and were aware of the allegations about to be levied against them.

In a gesture of transparency, the MEK invited Der Spiegel to visit the group’s residence in Albania. The group frequently invites politicians and dignitaries to the compound, most recently former Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson and former Bundestag President Rita Sussmuth both visited the compound. However, Der Spiegel did not reply to the group’s invitation. The magazine clearly had no inclination of getting to the truth of the matter and instead preferred to accept the regime’s lies at face value.

The regime sent a letter instead. The NCRI’s statement claims that Mathieu von Rohr sent a letter with ten questions for the MEK and gave a deadline of one week for the group to answer said questions.

The NCRI’s statement reports that the questions included several regime-originated mistruths and propaganda statements. For example, the first question asked if MEK members were not permitted to use cell phones, clocks, and calendars, an often-touted regime lie.

The NCRI and MEK replied to the ten questions in a 6,600-word reply just four days later. In this letter, they once again extended an invitation to Der Spiegel and implored them to visit the MEK compound. Given that this letter was sent on November 18, and the final article was not published until February 16, there was ample time for Der Spiegel to dispatch reporters to the compound to conduct journalistic due diligence and investigate the regime’s lies.

A Close Relationship

Although Der Spiegel did not publish the article on the intended date of November 24, it did share the article with the Iranian regime. On November 24, the Nejat Association, an offshoot of the regime’s MOIS published a Der Spiegel interview with former MEK member, Gholamreza Shekari. The interview was eventually included in the final Der Spiegel piece.

The fact that the Iranian regime was able to publish segments of the article several months before Der Spiegel published the piece, demonstrates close ties and deep cooperation between the German magazine and the Iranian regime.

Following the publication of the interview, in which Gholamreza, a close regime affiliate, repeated the regime’s usual lies, the NCRI reached out to Der Spiegel once more. The letter read, “what the Iranian people will not forget and will not forgive are the war crimes and the crimes committed by this regime against humanity.” The letter reiterated that these crimes had gone unnoticed and unreported by Der Spiegel.

“The appeasement of the mullahs at the expense of the Iranian people and their suffering and the blood of hundreds of thousands of tortured and executed political prisoners are truly disgusting,” it added.

Finally, the letter concluded, “the regime may reiterate its vile defamation of the PMOI (MEK) with labels such as personality cult, domination, anti-democratic structure and sect as often as it wishes: this will not stop the fall of this regime, a process in which the PMOI (MEK) is at the forefront. The process that will lead to the demise of the mullahs has begun and is irreversible.”

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Mostafa Tajzadeh,

Regime Faction Representative Reveals Coverup of Crime Blamed on MEK

Mostafa Tajzadeh,

Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy of the Iranian regime’s interior ministery during Mohammad Khatami’s Presidency, revealing the crimes of the regime during the so called moderate President.

A debate between representatives of Iranian regime factions about the history of the regime and matters of state unexpectedly turned into an admission of guilt for past crimes covered up by the Iranian regime in a recent broadcast on state-run media.

The debate took place between Mostafa Tajzadeh, former Deputy of the Interior Minister during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (so-called moderate president), and a rival, former MP Alierza Zakani. The debate quickly turned to a discussion of the Iranian regime’s role in two horrific criminal scandals that the regime has previously attempted to conceal and in an attempt to demonize its main opposition had blamed MEK for.

The Chain Murders

The first series of crimes referred to during the debate was a string of more than 80 assassinations of Iranian dissident intellectuals that took place from 1989 to 1998. Khamenei initially claimed that the assassinations, known as the chain murders, were planned and carried out by “foreign enemies,” but subsequent investigations proved that the murders were orchestrated by the Iranian regime and carried out by Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents.

Bombing of the Shrine of Imam Reza

The second crime the two faction members referred to was the 1994 bombing of the Shrine of Imam Reza, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, in Mashhad. The bombing, which was timed to coincide with the holy day of Ashura, killed at least 25 people and injured dozens more. The regime blamed the MEK for the bombing, despite a lack of evidence, and rounded up a number of people who claimed to be part of the Resistance and coerced them into confessing that they had been ordered by the MEK to carry out the attack. These false confessions, which were most likely

The International Committee “In Search of Justice” (ISJ) in a statement dated March 1, 2012, wrote: “Iranian regime has a long history of criticizing the victim instead of the murderer. This regime carried out the murder of Christian priests, the explosion of Imam Reza‘s sacred shrine in 1994 and killings in Mecca in 1988. Later the Iranian officials admitted that they put the responsibility on the opposition to defame them.”the result of torture, were broadcast on state television.

The Debate-Historical confession

During the debate Tajzadeh confessed: “Regarding the chain murders, Mr. Zakani, who has to be exposed? Who was opposed to keeping the issue silent and solving the issue in another way? They suggested to Mr. Khatami to carry out a scheme just like in Mashhad, find two so-called [MEK members] and say they did it. They wanted to extract confessions in ways that they know, and we would execute them.”

The Guardian Spreads the Iranian Regime’s Propaganda

Tajzadeh’s admission is a perfect example of the regime’s technique of committing crimes against its own people and then blaming the MEK for those same crimes. This is a strategy the regime has employed a number of times in its relentless campaign of demonization against the MEK. The goal is to delegitimize the opposition so that it cannot gain support in toppling the ruling regime.

When the MEK had a camp located in Iraq, regime officials claimed that the MEK was responsible for the series of deadly missile attacks carried out by Iraqi proxies of the Iranian regime to dismantle the main opposition to the regime, which eventually forced the residents to flee to Albania. Once the MEK settled into its new home in Albania, the regime tried to bomb its camp there and again claimed that the group had staged the attack itself. After an Iranian regime diplomat was arrested for masterminding a foiled terrorist attack on the annual gathering of the Iranian Resistance last summer in Paris, the regime claimed that the MEK was responsible for the attempted attack on tens of thousands of its own supporters. The European Union disagreed and issued sanctions against the MOIS and two of its agents earlier this month. The regime diplomat accused of masterminding the attack is currently standing trial in Belgium.

Iranian Diplomat-Terrorist and Accomplices Arraigned in Belgian Court on Terrorism Charges

The Iranian regime has a long history of perpetrating crimes and then blaming the MEK for those crimes. The recent televised debate is the latest illustration that this strategy is an open secret in Iran.

 

 

 

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Fake News by Iran's MOIS

MOIS and Revolutionary Guards Launch RESTART Social Media Campaign Against MEK

Fake News by Iran's MOIS

The Iranian regime’s Intelligence Ministry emanates fake news in order to discredit the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq / PMOI) the principal opposition to the religious dictatorship ruling Iran

On Thursday, January 17th, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a message from the U.S. State Department’s Farsi Twitter account asking the Iranian people to respond with their questions and hopes for the future of their country. The Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and Revolutionary Guards responded to this message by using their forces both inside and outside of Iran to quickly organize a campaign of misinformation against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance.

RESTART Hashtags

By midnight, thousands of anti-MEK and Iranian Resistance tweets had been posted on Twitter using a number of hashtags, primarily variations of #RESTART. The tweets were produced by the regime’s troll factories in Mashhad, Tabriz, Yazd, and Tehran.

While Twitter is forbidden and filtered in Iran, “Restart” – a name given to the self-made “opposition” Tweets tens of thousands tweets from Inside Iran

The hashtags used in the campaign are frequently used by the regime in their demonization campaigns against the MEK and appeared along with the #Restart_ Opposition hashtag. They included #Iranians_hate_PMOI” and “#no_to_ Mojahedin _e_khalq, distributing hit pieces produced by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS).

 

The perpetrators of the campaign used IP addresses located in the United States, Spain, and Germany in order to mask the origin of some of the tweets.

Origin of the RESTART Campaign

 

The RESTART campaign was originally launched several years ago by Mohammad Hosseini and has been used by the regime and its agents a number of times since in its demonization campaigns against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance. Hosseini first gained media attention on state-run television in Iran and then joined the Khamenei-approved Green Movement. He went on to make appearances in the United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, and the United States.

MOIS Agents’ Involvement in the Campaign

In an August 2013 interview with a Los Angeles television station, Hosseini explicitly stated that MOIS agents approached him while he was in the UAE and arranged a meeting, during which they asked him to start a television show. The MOIS agents told him:

“We will provide you with some news that would serve your interest. You will also be able to swear at us. If you have a character problem, we will fix it for you. We will give you news that you also find in other TVs of this kind here. Then gave me some names but I did not see any documents. For instance, they gave a name who is on their payroll and named a TV who is funded by them. They told me, ‘Hosseini, you either take this money from us… or we use a tenth of this money to obstruct your success. Make your decision. You will set up the TV that will be publicized. Its system is available and we will give you the news which is all critical [of the regime].’”

The Iranian Regime Uses Social Media as a Propaganda Tool

This is only the latest example of the regime’s cyber-terrorist actions against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance. Last August, Google, Twitter, and Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts created by Iranian regime agents. Many of those accounts were used to disseminate propaganda against the MEK.

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Tulip Square - Ashraf 3

Journalists from the National Visit Camp Ashraf

Tulip Square - Ashraf 3

The main entrance of Ashraf 3, the place of the residence of the MEK-Albania

The Iranian regime and its allies in the international media attempt to portray the largest pro-democracy Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) as a brainwashing cult. It has often levied accusations against the group that it holds members at its compound outside the Albanian capital of Tirana against their will.

Daniel M. Zucker Refutes Merat’s Guardian Hit Piece

The MEK has responded by giving international journalists unfettered access to its Albanian compound, Camp Ashraf 3, which houses some 2,500 MEK members. Most recently, the opposition group invited journalists from the National newspaper from Scotland.

A Reeling Economy

Whilst there, the journalists spoke with Senior MEK member, Mehdi Baraie, an active MEK member who spent six years incarcerated in Iran under the Shah.

 

Mr. Mehdi Baraie, one of the Senior member of the MEK

Baraie described the effects of Donald Trump’s renewed sanctions against the Iranian regime was having on the country’s economy. The sanctions have left the Iranian economy reeling as the rial’s value is in freefall against the dollar, inflation is rising, and unemployment is creeping up.

 

“What’s happening now is interesting,” he said. “2018 was a very important year because the uprising continued despite the regime trying everything it could to stop it.”

But Baraie predicted that 2019 would be vital for securing a democratic future for Iran. He explained, “as Ali Khamenei has said, 2019 is vital. Nobody believed the uprising could continue the way it has… Now every day they [the MEK and the Iranian opposition] have demonstrations everywhere.” He concluded, “it’s obvious that the Iranian regime will not be able to continue and will be overthrown.”

A Regime Fighting for Its Survival

As the domestic landscape in Iran becomes more hostile to the regime, and daily protests become more explicit in their calls for regime change, the regime has embarked on a propaganda campaign against the MEK and the Iranian opposition.

It believes that by turning international opinion against the MEK, it will legitimize its violent crackdown against the group, which has seen more than 5,000 members imprisoned and many executed.

The Regime’s Fear is a Sign of Changing Times

A pillar of this disinformation campaign is to portray the MEK as oppressors and hostage-takers. The Iranian regime used a Canadian-Iranian couple, Mostafa and Mahboubeh Mohammadi as mouthpieces and forced them to claim the MEK had taken their daughter, Somayeh, against her will.

Somayeh Mohammadi, MEK member now living in Albania

The pair told the international media that the organization was holding their daughter at Camp Ashraf 3 and that she was unable to leave the compound.

This narrative has been exposed as a lie. Somayeh told the National that her father was working on behalf of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). She said, “when I wanted to leave Canada and join the MEK movement my parents would not give their consent.”

Somayeh’s father was among the Iranian agents that traveled to the MEK’s former camp in Iraq and installed loudspeakers around the compound making threats against the members inside. Somayeh recounts how her father was involved in blaring messages of abuse and death threats towards herself and other MEK members.

“He was claiming that he loves me as my father but was against what I wanted to do,” she said, adding, “what kind of father would do this to their child?”

Somayeh has appeared in public disputing her father’s claims that she is being held against her will. She even wrote a book debunking the regime’s lies about her and her family.

Her father had all his claims rejected by the Iraqi judiciary. After an Iraqi judge interviewed Somayeh, the judge concluded that Somayeh was staying with the MEK at its compound of her own free will.

The prosecution determined that he had been in regular contact with the Iranian regime, which was also apparent in his travel arrangements. “He was staying at the most expensive hotel in Tirana, the Plaza. How could he afford to stay in a hotel like this for four months when back home in Canada he was a builder, an ordinary construction worker?” Somayeh exclaimed.

“I go out with my friends every other day. I can go to Tirana and buy whatever I need, I go to shops or the hospital, where I translate for PMOI [MEK] residents who need treatment,” she said.

A Terrorist Regime

The Iranian regime spreads these falsehoods and lies as part of a wider strategy to eradicate the MEK. In March, the Albanian authorities uncovered a plot to bomb the MEK’s compound during the Persian New Year celebrations. Fortunately, the agents involved were arrested before it was allowed to develop.

Then, in June, the Iranian leadership planned a car bomb attack on the MEK’s annual Grand Gathering in Paris. The plan was also foiled, and the Belgian authorities saved the lives of countless numbers of the 100,000 supporters who gathered at the event.

Following the foiled Paris attack, the French government concluded that senior members of the Iranian regime had been involved in the planning and execution of the terrorist plot. It froze the assets of several MOIS officials and expelled two Iranian diplomats from the country.

Baraie told the National, “the international community should put the Iran intelligence [MOIS] and [the] IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] on the terror list.”

Baraie echoed the belief of many of the MEK and the international community that the increased volume of attacks and propaganda aimed at the MEK demonstrates one thing; that the group represents a very real threat to the regime.

The Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers Issue a Statement on the Guardian’s MEK Hit Piece

The mullahs know their days are numbered. They are resorting to violence and dishonesty in an attempt to stay in power. But everyone at Camp Ashraf 3 knows their plans. They know they have the support of the Iranian people. They know they will secure a peaceful, democratic future for Iran.

Staff Writer

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Claas Relotius, Spiegel's recently sacked writer

The Western Media Is in the Midst of an Integrity Crisis

Claas Relotius, Spiegel's recently sacked writer

Claas Relotius, an editor of Der Spiegel Magazine in Germany that had been providing false and fabricated news in his articles in the Spiegel

In what has been called the “biggest fraud scandal in journalism since the Hitler diaries”, Claas Relotius, an editor of Der Spiegel Magazine in Germany, has been stripped of his journalism awards by CNN and other outlets.

During his seven-year career at Der Spiegel, Relotius published lies in his stories, often not bothering to visit and interview the places and subjects he wrote about. His features were at times, pure fabrication, and the case has rocked European journalism to its foundations.

A Systematic Campaign of Lies

Responding to this scandal, the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) published its own statement. While it unequivocally and forcefully condemned Relotius’ behavior, it posed the striking question: how does his conduct differ from other deliberate international misinformation campaigns?

Relotius pedaled falsehoods and invented feature stories, but he is far from the only international journalist doing so at this moment. In recent months and years, The Guardian, The Independent, Channel 4 News, and Al Jazeera have also published pieces based on information and sources from within the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS), which is viciously hostile to opposition groups like the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

Each article has spouted the same falsehoods and lies that originated through the Iranian propaganda and state-run media networks. These “journalists”, like Relotius, publish this information as though it is fact, without fact-checking or investigating the merit of their sources.

Former Vice-President of the European Parliament: The Guardian has Stabbed the Free Press in the Back

Most recently, Arron Reza Merat published a hit piece against the MEK in the British newspaper, The Guardian. He repeated regime accusations of murder and kidnap, often levied at the group, all of which have been extensively disproved in the public sphere.

The Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers Issue a Statement on the Guardian’s MEK Hit Piece

Merat’s sources were MOIS affiliates who introduced themselves as former MEK members.

In Contrast to the International Community

One sign that Merat’s piece failed to paint an accurate picture of the situation in Albania is that a month after the piece was published, the Albanian government expelled the Iranian diplomats working out of the regime’s embassy in Tirana for conspiring against the MEK.

Following their expulsion, US president Donal Trump expressed his gratitude to the Albanian government for its “steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and to counter its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence dissidents around the globe”.

Albania’s Decision to Expel Regime Diplomats is Welcomed by the Trump Administration

Given the increasing pressure the clerical regime faces in Iran through MEK-organised protests and resistance group activities, the regime is particularly eager to find international journalists willing to publish hit pieces against the opposition group.

The ISJ statement, penned by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, the former Vice-President of the European Parliament, concluded that “it’s time to break the silence vis-à-vis the Iranian regime’s malign influence in the Western press”. He added, “the media outlets responsible for disseminating the Iran articles based on distorted facts and dishonest sources seem unwilling to do so. Shame on them.”

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Terribly biased article on the Guardian against the MEK

Daniel M. Zucker Refutes Merat’s Guardian Hit Piece

Terribly biased article on the Guardian against the MEK

Biased article bashing the MEK in the Guardian raises outrage among the Iranian diaspora. The piece is considered a reaction to the recent surge in protests and strikes in the country and a preparation for more terrorist activities against the main opposition, the MEK.

Augusta Free Press published a refute of a Guardian article by Dr. Daniel M. Zucker, founder of Americans for Democracy in the Middle East and prominent author on Middle Eastern politics.

In the final months of 2018, British newspaper the Guardian published a hit piece against the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). The piece, published by Arron Reza Merat, a known regime affiliate, pedaled regime mistruths and lies in an attempt to influence public opinion against the Iranian opposition.

The Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers Issue a Statement on the Guardian’s MEK Hit Piece

Zucker describes how the Iranian Ministry of Security (MOIS) took a leaf from the Russian KGB in its disinformation procedures. It combines truths with lies. The truths provide “authenticity” and provide facts the regime can point to when it is questioned by critics. But it also sews substantial and glaring lies into the narrative, deliberately designed to deceive and manipulate.

The Lies Sewn into Regime Discourse

The Guardian’s piece contained a litany of these mistruths deliberately fed into the text. It regurgitated the regime claim that the MEK murdered several US citizens in the 1970s. The claim has often been brought against the group, but it has been publicly disproved several times.

Zucker asserts that the murders were carried out at a time when the MEK leadership was in regime custody. A Marxist splinter group known as Peykar has already been held accountable for the murders.

Falsehoods and Lies: Debunking the Guardian’s Piece on the MEK

The piece also explains about the MEK taking up weapons to fight the Iranian regime after the mullahs’ regime imposed absolute repression. The MEK took up arms to defend itself after Khomeini [regime Supreme Leader] had ordered the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to open fire on 500,000 peaceful MEK supporters during the June 20, 1981, peaceful demonstration in Tehran. Hundreds of Iranian citizens, supporters of MEK were killed in the onslaught.

https://kurdsanddisinformation.com/

The MEK in Iraq took up arms to defend their defenseless Iranian compatriots. The regime likes to pedal the lie that the MEK was involved in the 1988 gassing of the Halajab Kurds, but again, this is untrue. The Iraqi foreign minister, who is a Kurd himself, absolves the MEK of responsibility and proclaimed their innocence in the crimes.

Forced Membership Allegations

Another of the common regime accusations against the MEK centers on allegations it forces Iranians to join its ranks, and once involved with the organization, they are prevented from leaving.

This has also been publicly refuted time and time again. Recent visitors to the MEK compound, including high profile European politicians, have confirmed that MEK members are free to come and go as they please.

Former Scottish MEP Describes His Visit to Ashraf 3 in Albania and the Regime’s Vicious Misinformation Campaign

Everything the MEK does is done with the voluntary cooperation of its members, who are highly educated and capable of coherent decision-making.

 

Zucker also mentions the case of Somayeh Mohammadi, whose parents have frequently appeared on Iranian state-run media outlets and argued that the MEK is holding their daughter against her will. Somayeh Mohammadi has frequently denied this claim in public. She has revealed that her father is an agent of the regime and has publicly refuted his claims.

The Rise of the MEK and Overcoming the Regime’s Smear Campaign.

The Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels once professed that to win a propaganda war, you must lie, and lie big. The Iranian regime undoubtedly has that mentality in mind when it uses its affiliates to spread mistruths and falsehoods across international media outlets.

Staff Writer

 

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