Former Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has called upon U.S. President Donald Trump to release the names of top Iranian officials’ relatives who live in the United States or hold green cards.
In a tweet directly addressed to Trump, Ahmadinejad wrote on August 1, “Mr. Donald Trump; release the list of relatives of Iranian Government officials that (sic) have Green Cards and bank accounts in the United States; if you have such a list.”
The issue of top officials and their relatives who carry U.S.green cards became a heated argument last month when an Iranian MP tabled it.
In an interview with so-called pro-reform daily Etemad, mid-ranking Shi’ite cleric and the chairman of the Nuclear Subcommittee of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the Islamic Consultative Assembly, MojtabaZonnour, claimed that on the sidelines of talks over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, President Barack Obama ordered 2,500 green cards issued for Iranians to curry favor with Tehran’s negotiating team.
Zonnour pointed out that only 30 to 40 of the children of top Iranian officials are currently “studying” in United States, while the majority are “wasting Iranian public assets” to live “extravagant lives” there.
The claim was widely reflected in the right-leaning media in the United States, and Fox News presented it in a special report.
Reacting to the news, Trump wrote in a tweet on July 3, “Just out that the Obama Administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians - including to government officials. How big (and bad) is that?”
Nevertheless, Jeff Prescott, former senior director of Obama's National Security Council, described the allegation as "absurd and entirely false."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for his part, also said on July 7, “Such issues have never been raised in (the nuclear) talks or on their sidelines or in any other way, not even a legitimate request like the abolition of restrictions on Iranian diplomats working at the United Nations.”
Meanwhile, several Iranian MPs launched a special committee to investigate the case of officials with dual citizenship.
According to the report filed by the committee, the children of many Iranian officials, for a variety of reasons, including education and birth, have gained citizenship abroad and, without renouncing their new nationalities, are active in the public and economic sectors in Iran.
In its report, the committee listed the children of the foreign affairs and oil ministers and the president’s top aides as those who have dual citizenship.
Ahmadinejad’s recent tweet is expected to stir up the controversial issue in Iran. Ahmadinejad, who has become a thorn in the side of the Iranian establishment by criticizing Tehran’s top officials, particularly the head of Iran’s judiciary, is notorious for his commentary.