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Surveillance Devices Found At Former President’s Office And Home

Mohammad Khatami, Iran's ex-president, casts his ballot in May 2017 elections.

Citing “an informed source,” reformist daily E’temad’s website reports that surveillance devices have been discovered at former President Mohammad Khatami’s office and home.

“Eavesdropping on the meetings attended by Khatami is not implausible,” Javad Imam, the managing director of Khatami’s foundation, told the website April 24.

E’temad did not specify the type of bugs planted in Khatami’s home and office or when they were found, but reported they were discovered by reformist ex-employees of the Intelligence Ministry.

The Foundation for Freedom, Growth, and Development of Iran, or BARAN, an acronym in Persian meaning “rain,” was established by Khatami in 2005 after finishing his second term as president. It is a non-profit foundation with mainly pro-reform members and, according to its mission statement, works toward the “promotion of freedom, growth, and development in Iran.”

The unnamed “informed source” also told E’temad Online that newspapers linked to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his conservative allies regularly publish “exclusive” stories about Khatami’s activities the could be sourced from covert monitoring of his home and office.

Recent comments made by former MP from the city of Mashhad and prominent member of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party (ICP) Hamidreza Taraghi also suggest Khatami’s home and office might be bugged.

“Mr. Khatami should not imagine that what he says at private meetings goes unheard. The [ruling] system is aware of whatever he says and the positions he take towards different issues,” said Taraghi April 22 to Khabar Online website.

After facing a barrage of criticism for his remarks, Taraghi insisted that he did not mean that the establishment was eavesdropping on Khatami, but rather that some of the reformists close to the former president relay his private comments to the authorities.

Khatami has publicly accused authorities of eavesdropping in the past.

“At least be honest in quoting what has been clandestinely monitored,” Khatami said in December 2013, in a gathering of former governors who served during his presidency.

Outspoken MP from Tehran Ali Motahari has also complained about being under intelligence surveillance. In July 2013, Motahari said different types of surveillance devices, including hidden cameras and eavesdropping tools, had been discovered at his personal office outside parliament.

Motahari later claimed the deputy intelligence minister and one of his subordinates were responsible for the bugging and had been dismissed.

Furthermore, parliament’s Center for Islamic Research reported in July 2014 that a special “surveillance judge” would be appointed to issue licenses for wiretapping and other monitoring operations. The judge, endorsed by the Supreme Leader would only be accountable to him and the head of the Supreme National Security Council (the sitting president). After five years this proposal has remained on paper.

However, according to Article 25 of the Islamic Republic’s constitution, “The inspection of letters and the failure to deliver them, the recording and disclosure of telephone conversations, the disclosure of telegraphic and telex communications, censorship, or the willful failure to transmit them, eavesdropping, and all forms of covert investigation are forbidden, except as provided by law.”
Nevertheless, in March 2012, Reuters reported, “A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran’s largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile, and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show.”

The system was part of a 98.6 million euro ($130.6 million) contract for networking equipment supplied by Shenzhen, China-based ZTE Corp to the Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), according to the documents, Reuters reported at the time.