The issue of top Iranian officials and their children who have dual citizenship has once again flared up after a conservative MP indirectly accused the Islamic Republic’s President Hassan Rouhani of being a British citizen.
During the presentation of a parliament Investigation and Probe Committee report on Iranian officials who have dual citizenship, it was announced on Sunday, August 19, that one of the Iranian “top officials” in a “very high and important position” has British nationality.
A hardline MP and member of the Committee, Abolfazl Torabi, maintained, one of the country’s top officials has been naturalized as a British citizen, while studying in Scotland.
Although Torabi did not mention Rouhani by name, but, he was apparently referring to the president, whom hardliners are grilling these days.
Rouhani and his office have not yet reacted to the MP’s comments.
Earlier, the chairman of the Nuclear Subcommittee of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of parliament, Mojtaba Zonnour, had asserted that Rouhani’s son has British and Canadian nationality. A Rouhani’s aide dismissed the claim as unfounded.
Nevertheless, in an interview with the pro-reform daily Etemad, Zonnour went further and claimed that President Barack Obama ordered 2,500 green cards issued to Iranians (families of the elite) 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” living “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.
President Rouhani and his allies have, so far, preferred to ignore Zonnour’s comments cited by daily E’temad.
Now, the debate over the issue of Islamic Republic officials and their close relatives carrying dual citizenship has once again flared up after the presentation of the report compiled by the parliament’s Investigation and Probe Committee.
The Committee, a parliamentary subdivision of Investigation and Probe Commission, has also announced in its report that “many children” of Iranian top officials have gained citizenship abroad and without renouncing their new nationalities are active in the public and economic sectors in Iran.
The report has directly named the children of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Oil as well as the children of several Presidential aides and advisors as those who carry dual citizenship.
The Minister of Oil, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh has already admitted that his two children are living abroad.
The son and daughter of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have also been born in the USA.
Based on reports published by local news outlets, the son of deputy President Masoumeh Ebtekar, Eisa Hashemi is holding a Green Card and resides somewhere in the U.S.
Ms. Ebtekar was the spokesperson of the students who took 52 American diplomates hostage for 444 days, less than a year after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
The same news outlets have also claimed that President Rouhani’s former Chief of Staff, Mohammad Nahavandian, holds a Green Card.
In the meantime, former spokesman of the Rouhani’s Administration,
The case of top managers with dual citizenship initially triggered a heated debate after the head of Iran’s National Bank (Bank Melli), Mahmoud Reza Khavari fled Iran in 2011, following news of his involvement in a $2.6 billion embezzlement scandal.
Last December, Khavari was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for "disrupting the economic system," Iranian news agencies cited the head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court, as saying on December 9.
Khavari, who obtained Canadian citizenship in 2005, joined his family there.
Tehran has appealed to Canada for assistance, but Ottawa has refused, citing the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty.
Nevertheless, Rouhani’s Intelligence Minister, Mahmoud Alavi has insisted that “There are no managers with dual citizenship serving in the Rouhani’s Administration” and insisted that highlighting the case of dual nationals is a “scenario” written by government’s opponents.
Mahmoud Alavi has also argued that people who are carrying U.S. green cards are not counted as dual nationals and installing them in governmental positions, wherever the law permits, is acceptable.
Conservative mid-ranking cleric and the Islamic Republic’s Prosecutor-General, Mohammad Ja’far Montazeri has dismissed Alavi’s comments as “unconvincing”.