Friday, October 06, 2006

It’s Right-wing Journalists’ Time

Roozonline -Esfandiyar Saffari
06 Oct 2006

The official media organ of the Political Office of the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps announces the “possibility of doctrinaire journalists and news agencies falling prey to foreign intelligence agencies.”

The official media organ of the Political Office of the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps announces the “possibility of doctrinaire journalists and news agencies falling prey to foreign intelligence agencies.” Sobh Sadegh publication published by the Political Office of the Passdaran writes in its last issue, “We have received fresh reports and news of plans by foreign embassies in Tehran to establish relationships with and enlist journalists who work for doctrinaire media (associated with the ruling hardline factions).” Doctrinaire or ideologue media or journalists are those that pursue a hardline and extremist Islamic view on a range of issues and consequently support the current administration.
The publication attributes the news to sources inside the Ministry of Intelligence of Iran and points out that Minister of Intelligence Mohseni Ejhei had warned media managers in a recent meeting he had with them. It should be noted that in recent months there have been some arrests of “media managers” belonging to the doctrinaire press, all of whom except one were released immediately. It is reported that television program producer Pooryanejhad Veisi is one of the detainees who continues to be behind bars.
The Passdaran publication writes this about how journalists may be trapped by foreign intelligence organizations. “Invitations extended to media managers on the pretext of attending national celebrations, meeting the elite of the foreign countries, cultural exchange programs, language training, provision of academic scholarships, etc are the means that foreign embassies have recently engaged in their goals.” The publication points to the recent allocation of a budget in the United States for the expansion of media activities against Iran claims that foreign embassies in Tehran have expanded their activities and now target journalists in the pro-government media.
This is the first time that journalists in the pro-government media are warned of being targets of foreign espionage. During the past 8 years of the reform period in Iran, Sobh Sadegh publication had made such accusations against journalists associated with the reform media, accusing them to be agents of foreigners. “In their new analysis, foreign intelligence services have concluded that there is not much use any longer to invest in reform-minded journalists who are controlled by domestic security forces, lack close contacts inside the regime, and despite having some inside sources for original news, have no utility because they have been exposed and are considered un-original sources.”
In the article the publication claims that foreign intelligence agencies have embarked on establishing clandestine or open relations with some journalists who may not be ideologue minded themselves, but work in the pro-government media. Sadegh writes that “invitations to Western and East Asian countries on the pretext of showing them news and media centers, at which some ideologue journalists currently are on visit, are among activities that have been given new prominence.”
Over the past year when tensions and difference inside the hardline camp have increased, some media managers belonging to what are known as doctrinaire media have come under suspicion and accusations. For example Ali Shokuhi who was a Keyhan Havaii manager a decade ago and currently runs the Farda news website was arrested a few days ago by agents from the office of intelligence of the Joint Chief of Staff. The next person to be arrested was the manager of Aref News website which was closely tied to the government, whose name was not published. The manager of the site subsequently denied that he had been arrested but stated that he had been invited to a “supervisory agency for consultations and awareness,” and wrote that his future activities would be “coordinated” with the supervisory agency.
The most recent case in this regard is the arrest of Pooryanejhad Veisi. Former political prisoner Siamak Sanjari had recently stated that according to a source inside Evin prison a Pooryanejhad Veisi was in prison on charges of spying for Israel. News reports had earlier reported that he was the author of the scandalous reports about the sale and distribution of polluted meat in Iran, which enjoyed the support of rightwing circles, while others have said that he was an associate of right-wing editor Hossein Shariatmadari in Keyhan hardline newspaper.

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