Iran General NewsIn Iran, 3 degrees of separation from truth

In Iran, 3 degrees of separation from truth

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ImageNew York Times: Iran’s interior minister admitted Tuesday that a doctorate he said he had earned from Oxford was a fake, and said that he was pressing charges against an intermediary who had forged it without his knowledge.

The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI
Published: September 30, 2008

ImageTEHRAN — Iran’s interior minister admitted Tuesday that a doctorate he said he had earned from Oxford was a fake, and said that he was pressing charges against an intermediary who had forged it without his knowledge.

Later on Tuesday, the leader of a parliamentary investigation of the matter said it appeared that the minister, Ali Kordan, had lied about his bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well, the ILNA news agency reported.

In a letter released to the public, Mr. Kordan informed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he doubted the validity of the degree only after members of Parliament raised questions about it during a vote of confidence in August, the state newspaper, Iran, reported.

Mr. Kordan said he had been victimized by a man who introduced himself eight years ago as a representative of Oxford and had given him the fake degree in return for a thesis he had written previously. “My degree was issued, based on my management and executive experience and in return for a thesis, by a man who had opened an English-language school in Tehran,” Mr. Kordan wrote.

Mr. Kordan said that he reacted with “utter disbelief” when he discovered that his doctorate was a fake. He said that he had filed a complaint against the man, but had not been able to trace him. He did not give the man’s name.

Mr. Ahmadinejad sent a copy of the letter to Parliament and a copy to the judicial authorities to pursue “the violator and prevent such cases,” the Fars news agency reported.

Mr. Ahmadinejad appointed Mr. Kordan as the interior minister in August. But one of the president’s opponents in Parliament, Ahmad Tavakoli, later posted on his Web site a letter from Oxford denying that it had granted Mr. Kordan a degree, honorary or otherwise.

Parliament held a meeting behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss the case, but there were no reports that Mr. Kordan would resign or be dismissed.

A member of Parliament, Ali Abbaspour, who was in charge of the investigation, told reporters that a decision on Mr. Kordan’s status was the responsibility of the speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, and other members of the presiding board.

Mr. Abbaspour added that Mr. Kordan, who has taught at the university level, had taken courses at Iran’s Open University, but that the dean there said Mr. Kordan had not been granted the bachelor’s and master’s degrees he claimed he had, ILNA reported.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has come under increasing pressure from the parliamentary opposition in recent months. To date, Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on state matters, has backed him publicly.

In mid-September Ayatollah Khamenei told parliamentary critics of Mr. Ahmadinejad, who were pressing him to dismiss a close aide for comments that Iran was a friend of the Israeli people, to back down.

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