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Brokering Candidate Approval In Iran Elections Has Precedents, Whistleblower Says

Mahmood Sadeqi who has accused Iran's election watchdog of corruption is an outspoken reformist lawmaker from Tehran. FILE PHOTO

In a letter to the Secretary of Iranian election watchdog on Saturday Mahmoud Sadeqi who first blew the whistle on middlemen brokering approval of candidates, said corruption in the qualification process has precedents in previous elections.

In his letter to Ahmad Jannati, the hardliner Secretary of the Guardian Council, Sadeqi (Sadeghi) said some of the candidates in previous elections had also been qualified to run by paying money to middlemen to secure the Council's approval.

Sadeqi says he has submitted evidence for his claim to the election watchdog's Intelligence Organization and has evidence including voice recordings which prove they had access to the Council's files on would-be candidates.

The 12-member GC, which is empowered to vet legislation and oversee elections, is made up of religious jurists and lawyers and, in many ways, acts as an upper legislative body in the Islamic Republic establishment.

In a tweet on January 27, Sadeqi said brokers who claimed having influence with the Guardian Council demanded up to 40 billion rials (about $300,000) from would-be candidates in parliamentary elections to ensure they were approved to run.

Sadeqi also wrote to the Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi) on February 4 about corruption in the process of vetting candidates and called on him to ensure those responsible, both inside and outside the Guardian Council, were brought to justice.

On February 4 the Office of the Prosecutor of Tehran said twelve individual "who claimed they had influence in the Guardian Council" had been arrested . The Prosecutor's Office, however, said they had no connections with the Council and were identified and arrested as a result of the "thorough surveillance of the supervisory bodies of the Guardian Council".

Akbar Alami, a former lawmaker, has supported Sadeqi's claims. In a Telegram post on February 4, Alami confirmed the arrest of a number of middlemen in the bribery case and promised to publish the names and phone numbers of these middlemen and explain their methods of work.

The Election Supervisory Boards of the Guardian Council that are in charge of vetting candidates have disqualified thousands of would-be candidates, including sitting representatives such as Sadeqi himself, from running in the parliamentary elections on February 21.

Reformists allege that the Council has eliminated their chances of winning in 230 out of the 290 districts in the upcoming elections by disqualifying their candidates.