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 Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi 

 

https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2021/01/20/fbi-arrests-massachusetts-based-political-scientistcharges-working-iran/#

 

The FBI arrested author and political scientist Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts, on Monday on charges of acting as an unregistered agent for the government of Iran.

Afrasiabi, 63, is an Iranian citizen who has lawful permanent residence in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said he has been leading a double life as a secret operative of the Iranian regime while working as a scholar and commentator in the United States:

Afrasiabi holds a PhD, and frequently publishes books and articles, and appears on English-language television programs discussing foreign relations matters, particularly Iran’s relations with the United States.  Afrasiabi has identified or portrayed himself as a political scientist, a former political science professor or as an expert on foreign affairs.

Since at least 2007 to the present, Afrasiabi has also been secretly employed by the Iranian government and paid by Iranian diplomats assigned to the Permanent Mission of the IMUN [Iran’s mission to the United Nations].  Afrasiabi has been paid approximately $265,000 in checks drawn on the IMUN’s official bank accounts since 2007, and has received health insurance through the IMUN’s employee health benefit plans since at least 2011.

In the course of his employment by the Iranian government, Afrasiabi has lobbied a U.S. congressman and the U.S. Department of State to advocate for policies favorable to Iran, counseled Iranian diplomats concerning U.S. foreign policy, made television appearances to advocate for the Iranian government’s views on world events, and authored articles and opinion pieces espousing the Iranian government’s position on various matters of foreign policy.

DOJ charged that Afrasiabi was well aware he should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), citing admissions in his own emails that Iranian government funding made his “books, hundreds of articles in newspapers and academic journals,” and media presence possible.

“Without support none of this would have been possible! This has been a very productive relationship spanning decades that ought not to be interrupted,” he gushed to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a July 2020 email.

Afrasiabi’s services to the Iranian regime allegedly went far beyond writing some articles for American media from Tehran’s point of view:

For example, in January 2020, Afrasiabi emailed Iran’s Foreign Minister and Permanent Representative to the United Nations with advice for “retaliation” for the U.S. military airstrike that killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the external operations arm of the Iranian government’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, proposing that the Iranian government “end all inspections and end all information on Iran’s nuclear activities pending a [United Nations Security Council] condemnation of [the United States’] illegal crime.”  Afrasiabi claimed that such a move would, among other things, “strike fear in the heart of [the] enemy.”

“In 2009, Afrasiabi helped an unidentified congressman draft a letter to President Barack Obama about U.S. and Iranian nuclear negotiations, according to court documents. He never disclosed that he was working for Iran,” the Associated Press reported, citing officials familiar with the case.

“For over a decade, Kaveh Afrasiabi pitched himself to Congress, journalists, and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran. However, all the while, Afrasiabi was actually a secret employee of the Government of Iran and the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations (IMUN) who was being paid to spread their propaganda,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

“Anyone working to advance the agenda of a foreign government within the United States is required by law to register as an agent of that country. Mr. Afrasiabi never disclosed to a congressman, journalists or others who hold roles of influence in our country that he was being paid by the Iranian government to paint an untruthfully positive picture of the nation,” said William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge for the FBI field office in New York.

“Our laws are designed to create transparency in foreign relations, and they are not arbitrary or malleable.  As today’s action demonstrates, we will fully enforce them to protect our national security,” Sweeney noted.

Afrasiabi appeared before a federal court in Boston by videoconference on Tuesday and a detention hearing is scheduled for Friday. He faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison if convicted on all charges.

BACKGROUND: Iranian Foreign Agent Used by Obama’s Media Echo Chamber Arrested

 

https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/01/iranian-foreign-agent-used-obamas-media-echo-daniel-greenfield/

 

When the New York Times and the Washington Post wanted Iran explained to them, they turned to Kaveh Afrasiabi. So did at least one member of Congress who is only listed as “Congressman-1” in the FBI’s application for Afrasiabi’s arrest as a foreign agent of Iran.

Afrasiabi had started out as Howard Zinn’s teaching assistant. The notorious Communist revisionist historian was the Iranian immigrant’s dissertation adviser. “My first exposure to Zinn was in his graduate class on Marxism and anarchism,” Afrasiabi wrote in a tribute at The Nation.

Zinn had gushed, “I admire Afrasiabi for his courage.”

Afrasiabi, who was on familiar terms with Zinn and Noam Chomsky, was practicing a different kind of revisionist history than Zinn’s affinity for Communist revisionism or Chomsky’s sympathy for Holocaust deniers. For decades, he peppered newspapers and journals with letters and later articles laying out a revisionist history of the brutal theocracy terrorizing Iran and the region.

In a 1990 New York Times letter, Afrasiabi insisted that Iran was a tolerant place, where there is “very little book censorship”, and there’s more freedom than there was before the Islamic takeover. The letters soon turned into op-eds. He wrote articles, studies, reviews, and books that laid out a case for appeasing the Islamic terror state and dismissing its nuclear program.

And the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, the Harvard International Review, and The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, were all happy to run Afrasiabi’s political revisionism.

After Iranians took to the street to protest a rigged election, CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Afrasiabi who defended Ahmadinejad. CNN also featured a piece by Afrasiabi assuring its readers that there was no evidence of election fraud and suggesting that they would soon see “a more moderate Ahmadinejad gearing up for dialogue with the West”.

Before long, Afrasiabi had become an official expert on Iran.

The Council on Foreign Relations repeatedly quoted Afrasiabi on everything having to do with Iran. When anti-government riots broke out in Iran, the Washington Post turned to Afrasiabi. By 2009, an unknown member of Congress, described only as “Congressman-1”, was regularly turning to Afrasiabi and cited him in a letter to Obama about cutting a deal with Iran.

Kaveh Afrasiabi had his own thoughts on the subject. In an email to Iran’s Foreign Minister and UN ambassador after President Trump took out terror boss Qassam Soleimani, he urged the terror regime to retaliate in order to “strike fear in the heart of enemy” and “weaken Trump and strengthen his opponents”. President Trump’s opponents were the ones listening to Afrasiabi.

And Afrasiabi was getting his talking points directly from Iran which was paying his salary.

Not only has Afrasiabi been charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Islamic terror state, but his role was so blatant that he was actually getting checks directly from and having his health insurance covered through Iran’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations.

Afrasiabi did everything but formally register as a foreign agent, and yet no one cared.

Meanwhile Afrasiabi’s emails showed how he was using his access to the media on behalf of an enemy regime.

“I will continue to fully support our foreign minister as I have in the past,” he wrote during the Iran Deal debate. “For your information, last month I wrote article in Boston Globe, letter in Washington Post.”

Just as the Washington Post had provided space for the Qatari regime by printing Jamal Khashoggi’s columns, and then treating him as a martyr, it offered space to Iran’s regime. And Iran was shaping Afrasiabi’s material similarly to the way Qatar had shaped Khashoggi’s.

When Iran took American sailors hostage, a press secretary from Iran’s UN mission gave him talking points about how well they had been treated. And Afrasiabi pleaded for “a more robust role for me given my credential and name recognition in iran as a stubborn defender of iran who has experienced years of oppression in us.”

His “oppression in us” involved extensive litigation with Harvard when he was accused of extortion, with Zinn, Chomsky, and Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes coming to his defense.

He also claimed to have been the victim of police brutality from “racist, brutal, unprofessional and malicious” Cambridge Police officers. The Iranian immigrant claimed that the cops targeted him because he looked foreign, but news reports mention that he was arrested because he left the Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub in Central Square without paying for his meal.

None of this bizarre history dissuaded academia and the media from taking him seriously.

His latest book, Trump and Iran: Containment to Confrontation, was featured in Columbia University’s Journal of International Affairs. Meanwhile he was serving on the advisory board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII).

The New York Times, the Washington Post, Congressman-1, the State Department, the Council on Foreign Relations, the United Nations, and everyone who gave Afrasiabi a forum may try to argue that they had no idea he was working for Iran. No matter how hard he shilled for Iran, its nuclear program, and its domestic brutality, Afrasiabi’s enablers chose not to see.

After the murder of Neda Agha Soltan, who was killed by the Iranian regime while protesting against Ahmadinejad,  Afrasiabi claimed that the violence was the fault of “some rogue officials” and suggested that she may have been killed by “dissident groups” or foreign spies.

Afrasiabi may not have registered as a foreign agent, but he made little secret of his sympathies. After Soleimani’s assassination, he ranted during a television interview that President Trump’s “hands are stained with the blood of ten martyrs” and warned that the President “has provoked . . . blowback . . . that will be coming before too long.”

The blowback never came. Instead, Afrasiabi was arrested for acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Iran. The only blowback is to the media’s echo chamber which loses one of its own.

“We created an echo chamber,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s close adviser, had told the New York Times. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

The Iran Deal became possible because the Obama administration had collaborated with pro-Iran groups to push a false narrative about the deal and its nuclear program.

Among the places that Afrasiabi was published was LobeLog. While LobeLog has since become part of George Soros’ Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, it was formerly partly funded  by the Ploughshares Fund. And the Ploughshares Fund was a key part of the echo chamber.

“We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else,” Rhodes had boasted. The Iran Project, like LobeLog, repeatedly ran material quoting Afrasiabi.

While the Obama administration claimed to be worried about foreign interference, its propaganda campaign for the Iran Deal was utilizing the work of an Iranian foreign agent.

The foreign interference in America’s political system had been aided and abetted by the Obama administration which spied on members of Congress speaking to Prime Minister Netanyahu and relied on an echo chamber that included an alleged agent of Iran.

Afrasiabi once wrote an article titled, “Reading Marx in Cairo.” If a Democrat DOJ doesn’t undermine the investigation, then Afrasiabi may end up reading Marx in prison.

USA DOJ ANNOUNCEMENT: Political Scientist Author (Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi) Charged With Acting As An Unregistered Agent Of The Iranian Government

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Defendant Lobbied U.S. Officials, Published Books and Articles Advancing Iranian Viewpoints While Secretly Employed by the Iranian Mission to the United Nations

A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, also known as Lotfolah Kaveh Afrasiabi, with acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).  Afrasiabi was arrested yesterday at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts, and will make his initial appearance this morning in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal.

John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Seth D. DuCharme, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Boston Field Office, announced the arrest and charges.

“For over a decade, Kaveh Afrasiabi pitched himself to Congress, journalists, and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran,” said John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.  “However, all the while, Afrasiabi was actually a secret employee of the Government of Iran and the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations (IMUN) who was being paid to spread their propaganda.  In doing so, he intentionally avoided registering with the Department of Justice as the Foreign Agents Registration Act required.  He likewise evaded his obligation to disclose who was sponsoring his views.  We now begin to hold him responsible for those deeds.”

“Afrasiabi allegedly sought to influence the American public and American policymakers for the benefit of his employer, the Iranian government, by disguising propaganda as objective policy analysis and expertise,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme.  “This Office is committed to the robust enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which provides the American people the tools they need to evaluate opinions and arguments in the marketplace of ideas by requiring foreign agents to declare their paymasters.  Those, like the defendant, who conceal the full extent of their work for a foreign government when the law requires disclosure will face consequences for their actions.”

“Anyone working to advance the agenda of a foreign government within the United States is required by law to register as an agent of that country,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney.  “Mr. Afrasiabi never disclosed to a congressman, journalists or others who hold roles of influence in our country that he was being paid by the Iranian government to paint an untruthfully positive picture of the nation.  Our laws are designed to create transparency in foreign relations, and they are not arbitrary or malleable.  As today’s action demonstrates, we will fully enforce them to protect our national security.”

“Our arrest of Kaveh Afrasiabi makes it clear that the United States is not going to allow undeclared agents of Iran to operate in our country unchecked.  For more than a decade, Mr. Afrasiabi was allegedly paid, directed, and controlled by the Government of Iran to lobby U.S. government officials, including a congressman; and to create and disseminate information favorable to the Iranian government,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Bonavolonta.  “The FBI will continue to do everything it can to uncover these hidden efforts and hold accountable those who work for our adversaries to the detriment of our national security.”

According to the complaint, Afrasiabi is a citizen of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a lawful permanent resident of the United States.  Afrasiabi holds a PhD, and frequently publishes books and articles, and appears on English-language television programs discussing foreign relations matters, particularly Iran’s relations with the United States.  Afrasiabi has identified or portrayed himself as a political scientist, a former political science professor or as an expert on foreign affairs.

Since at least 2007 to the present, Afrasiabi has also been secretly employed by the Iranian government and paid by Iranian diplomats assigned to the Permanent Mission of the IMUN.  Afrasiabi has been paid approximately $265,000 in checks drawn on the IMUN’s official bank accounts since 2007, and has received health insurance through the IMUN’s employee health benefit plans since at least 2011.

In the course of his employment by the Iranian government, Afrasiabi has lobbied a U.S. congressman and the U.S. Department of State to advocate for policies favorable to Iran, counseled Iranian diplomats concerning U.S. foreign policy, made television appearances to advocate for the Iranian government’s views on world events, and authored articles and opinion pieces espousing the Iranian government’s position on various matters of foreign policy.  Afrasiabi has long known that FARA requires agents of foreign principals to register with the U.S. Department of Justice and has discussed information obtained from FARA disclosures with others.  Nevertheless, Afrasiabi did not register as an agent of the Government of Iran.

For example, in January 2020, Afrasiabi emailed Iran’s Foreign Minister and Permanent Representative to the United Nations with advice for “retaliation” for the U.S. military airstrike that killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the external operations arm of the Iranian government’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, proposing that the Iranian government “end all inspections and end all information on Iran’s nuclear activities pending a [United Nations Security Council] condemnation of [the United States’] illegal crime.”  Afrasiabi claimed that such a move would, among other things, “strike fear in the heart of [the] enemy.”

Afrasiabi has admitted in his own communications that his extensive body of published works and television appearances, in which he has consistently advocated perspectives and policy positions favored by the Iranian government, has been attributable to the funding he receives from the Iranian government.  For example, in a July 28, 2020, email to Iran’s Foreign Minister, Afrasiabi included “links for many of [his] works, including books, hundreds of articles in international newspapers and academic journals,” telling Iran’s Foreign Minister, “Without support none of this would have been possible! This has been a very productive relationship spanning decades that ought not to be interrupted.”

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted of both charged offenses, Afrasiabi faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ian C. Richardson and Michael T. Keilty are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney David C. Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.