A member of the Islamic Republic’s Expediency Council, a body that advises the Supreme Leader, has cautioned about foreign intelligence services infiltrating state institutes in Iran.
Speaking to state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) June 17, council member Majid Ansari stressed the need to identify “foreign agents” who have “infiltrated” government entities in the country.
The mid-ranking cleric described the consequences of the foreign intelligence infiltration as “disastrous.”
Ansari, who previously worked as President Hasan Rouhani’s deputy for legal affairs, implied in his statement that the “infiltrators” can be found among critics of the government and in conservative camps.
“A group that claims to be revolutionary and in support of the Guardianship of the [Islamic] Jurist has gone even further and acted to create division among figures responsible for running different state entities,” Ansari noted. He did not accuse any officials by name of working for foreign intelligence and did not specify which institutions he believes are compromised.
Ansari also accused the media of trying to weaken President Rouhani’s administration.
“A glance at a collection of headlines and political analyses from a number of well-known media from the past year would suffice to show that they are similar to Israelis and anti-Islamic Revolution media, including the ones run by the Munafiqeen (Mujahdin-e Khalq-e Iran Organization, MKO),” Ansari said.
Ansari was apparently referring to dailies and news websites such as Kayhan newspaper, Fars, and Tasnim.
Daily Kayhan is run by a manager directly appointed by the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while Fars News Agency (FNA) and Tasnim news websites are affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
“From the very beginning of the formation of the current administration, these media have been attempting to weaken the government, spreading disappointment among the people and smearing the eminent house of [the founder of the Islamic Republic] by insulting its members,” Ansari said. “Such actions are the signs of infiltration of the enemies’ elements into these media and entities.”
Ansari cited the recital of anti-government poems at two past Eid al-Fitr (end of fasting month of Ramadan) ceremonies attended by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Last Friday, during a ceremony celebrating the end of Ramadan, a renowned Shi’ite eulogist, Maytham Motiee, repeated his performance from last year’s ceremony by reciting a vitriolic poem criticizing Rouhani’s administration, particularly its position on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. The poem was recited while Khamenei and Rouhani were present at the ceremony, and the full text of the poem was later published on Khamenei’s official website.
In recent years, officials have repeatedly reported the arrests of “elements” charged with espionage for foreign governments, particularly Israel. Neither the names of these individuals nor any details about their cases have ever been disclosed.
A website supporting the Islamic Republic’s previous Prime Minister, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest since February 2011, reported in 2015 that two authorities working on the Israel Desk at the IRGC’s intelligence organization and Intelligence Ministry had been charged with espionage for Israel and arrested. Intelligence Ministry officials neither confirm nor deny the story.