NewsSpecial WireUltra-conservative daily accuses Iran’s Nobel laureate of murder plot

Ultra-conservative daily accuses Iran’s Nobel laureate of murder plot

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Iran Focus: Paris, Jul. 20 – A state-owned newspaper accused Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi and the wife of jailed journalist Akbar Ganji of being part of a foreign-backed conspiracy to compel him to starve himself to death in a bid to embarrass the clerical regime. The daily Kayhan also pointed the finger at President George W. Bush and the U.S. administration for being involved in the “plot”. Iran Focus

Paris, Jul. 20 – A state-owned newspaper accused Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi and the wife of jailed journalist Akbar Ganji of being part of a foreign-backed conspiracy to compel him to starve himself to death in a bid to embarrass the clerical regime.

The daily Kayhan also pointed the finger at President George W. Bush and the U.S. administration for being involved in the “plot”. The complex conspiracy and the accompanying accusations would have been hilarious had they not appeared in the form of a serious political revelation in a newspaper that has close ties to Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Revolutionary Guards and the dreaded secret services.

Under the title, “Akbar Ganji’s death plot thwarted”, the daily wrote, “Reliable intelligence provided to Akbar Ganji saved his life from a conspiracy that had been hatched to bring about his death”.

Kayhan based its article on information obtained from an unnamed “informed official”.

“In this plot, Shirin Ebadi and an individual close to Akbar Ganji played the role of intermediaries”, Kayhan quoted the official as saying. “Akbar Ganji was asked to go on hunger strike and he had been given assurances that if his physical conditions deteriorated, they would intervene to prevent any serious damage to his health. The plotters had at the same time promised a foreign party that once Akbar Ganji died, they would turn the issue into a big fiasco against the Islamic Republic. They were to be rewarded handsomely for their services”.

The paper’s anonymous source referred to X and said, “The plot was hatched during the weeks-long trip to a European country by X and contacts with the representative of an American ‘human rights’ group. The American party was reassured of the final success of the plot and, in return, agreed that prominent American officials would declare their support for Ganji directly and publicly”.

“The American official reportedly told his Iranian interlocutor that if Akbar Ganji survived, the project would fail and it would create a big debacle for U.S. authorities”, the Iranian official told Kayhan.

“Akbar Ganji had only eight more months to serve in prison. When X insisted to him that he must resume his hunger strike, he began to have doubts and did not follow the suggestions that were made to him as to how to continue his hunger strike. As a result, there was a delay in how long it would take for him to reach a very critical state”, the official said.

“At the same time, Shirin Ebadi asked the judicial authorities for a meeting with Akbar Ganji without the presence of prison guards. The officials accepted her request, but insisted that at least one relative of Akbar Ganji should be present in the meeting. Shirin Ebadi insisted that no prison guard or relative of Ganji should be present. When her request was turned down, she gave a distorted version of events to domestic and foreign journalists”, Kayhan quoted the anonymous source as saying.

The daily wrote that the “well-informed official” saw a link between these two events, but deferred any further elaboration to the future, while noting that “it was at that time that George Bush personally supported Ganji and threatened Iran”.

According to Kayhan’s source, when President Mohammad Khatami won the agreement of Iran’s judiciary chief for the conditional release of Ganji, subject to his written request, Ganji’s wife stepped in to prevent his release.

“The next day, Akbar Ganji’s wife announced in an interview that her husband would never ask for a conditional release. She made this announcement without meeting Ganji”, the official said.

“When the plotters found out that contrary to what they had planned, Ganji’s health was not in a critical state, they sent a message to him and said your freedom and heroism will only come true if you go into coma as a result of the hunger strike”, the official told Kayhan.

“When Ganji saw some of the evidence, he felt that he was to become victim of a conspiracy and that those who were advising him were impatiently waiting for his death. The reliable evidence and intelligence that were put at his disposal turned his doubts into certainty and he agreed to be taken to hospital”, the official said.

Ganji’s recovery has infuriated the perpetrators of the plot, according to Kayhan. “They were so angry that they sent a message to Ganji full of strong words and insults, telling him that his recovery has foiled all their plans to turn him into a hero. But Ganji, who has finally become aware of the plot against him, did not leave their insults unanswered”.

Some Iran experts found the article in Kayhan disconcerting.

“Hossein Shariatmadari [Kayhan’s publisher and editor-in-chief”> has not planted this article on the front-page of Kayhan to compete with the latest adventures of Harry Potter”, said Javad Farahi of the London-based Gulf Intelligence Monitor, a specialist in Iran’s intelligence services. “This is part of a concerted ultra-conservative counter-attack to defuse the ‘Ganji crisis’. First, they discredit him by linking his hunger strike to foreign intelligence services, particularly the CIA. Then they intimidate everyone into silence”.

Farahi says this is not the first time Iran’s clerical leaders use Kayhan and the country’s dreaded security services to deal with dissidents in this way. “The script changes, but the basic ingredients remain the same: a complicated ‘plot’ involving the United States and some indigenous dissidents, thwarted just in time by the heroic security services of the Islamic Republic”, he said.

Human rights activists are concerned that the way Kayhan has accused Shirin Ebadi in the “plot” could pose a threat to her safety.

“Kayhan’s ‘source’ has made it clear that there will be further ‘revelations’ soon”, human rights lawyer Nadia Taslimi said in Paris. “They are trying to intimidate Shirin Ebadi into silence”.

Farahi thinks the real plot could be the ultra-conservative camp’s move against Ebadi and not Ganji.

“The gang around the Supreme Leader has become very confident after the successful way it engineered Ahmadinejad’s rise to presidency”, Farahi said. “What they have up their sleeves now is anybody’s guess”.

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