The head of the Islamic Republic Radio and Television, Ali Askari, has appointed his brother-in-law, Hamid Shahabadi, as the Deputy Director of the "Seda va Sima" (Voice and Vision) monopolized state-run radio and television network on Wednesday, October 7.
Shahabadi is replacing Morteza Mirbaqeri, who, except for a limited period, was the second-in-command of the organization under the directorship of Ali Larijani, Ezatullah Zarghami, and Abdol-Ali Ali Askari.
Iran's Voice and Vision is among the largest media organizations in the whole world. It is independent of the Iranian government, but its head is appointed directly by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
With a total number of 13,000 to 50,000 employees, Seda va Sima is a media empire that has branches in twenty countries worldwide, including France, India, Belgium, Malaysia, UK, the United States, and broadcasts in more than thirty languages.
Though financed by the government, Seda va Sima is a tax-exempt organization and not accountable to anybody but Khamenei.
Shahabadi, Seda va Sima's new Deputy Director and the brother of Ali Askari's wife, was the Deputy of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Arts Affairs in the government of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad between 2005-13.
Since October 2017, Shahabadi oversaw Iran's radio networks.
Such appointments are usually made in consultation with and approval of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's office.
Shahabadi is the grandson of Ayatollah Shahabadi, one of the of teachers the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, in the Twelver-Shi'ite seminary in Qom, south of Tehran.
He is also the son of Mehdi Shahabadi, a member of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, also known as Iran's Majlis parliament, in the first post-Islamic Revolution period. His brother Nasrullah Shahabadi was also a member of the influential Assembly of Experts, and died in 2017.
In another decree, Askari appointed Ali Bakhshizadeh to replace Shahabadi to run Iran's radio networks.
Bakhshizadeh has no experience in radio, but according to the public relations of Seda va Sima, he has previously been the head of the Monitoring and Evaluation Center of the Radio and Television Organization for two terms and the director of the Radio and Television Network for one term.
Since replacing the National Iranian Radio and Television (NIRT) in 1979, Sada va Sima has played a pivotal role in assisting Iranian intelligence agents by broadcasting political activists' forced confessions.
A study published in June 2020 by the Justice for Iran and the International Federation for Human Rights said Iranian television had broadcast potentially coerced confessions of 355 detainees since 2010.
Former prisoners said they had been beaten and received threats of sexual violence as a means for their false testimonies to be delivered for use by the country's broadcasters.
Moreover, two Seda va Sima reporters were recently accused of acting as interrogators on behalf of agents linked to the fearsome Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' Intelligence Organization.