It has recently been brought to the attention of our committee that the Channel 4 News is planning to broadcast a report it made about the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the principal member of Iran’s broader democratic opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and its members now living in Albania.
The British Committee for Iran Freedom (BCFIF) has been following PMOI’s case closely since they lived in Camp Ashraf, and later in Camp Liberty in Iraq as well as during the legal challenges that led to the removal of the PMOI from the terrorist lists in the UK, EU and ultimately the US after repeated courts rejected the blacklisting of the Iranian opposition.
The notion that the PMOI is operating from “a secret base in Albania” and “brainwashes and tortures its members” are demonstrably false and baseless because all its members relocated to third countries under the auspices of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
Since 2003, each single one of them was interviewed on numerous occasions by US Forces in Iraq, the Iraqi government, UNHCR and then in Albania by Albanian authorities. Such claim is simply ridiculous.
This relocation process, which was followed closely and supported by BCFIF and many of our cross-party colleagues from both Houses of Parliament, was facilitated by the Obama Administration as the US had recognised each PMOI member as a Protected Person under the Fourth Geneva Convention, a year after the Iraq Invasion in 2003. Before receiving their status, each PMOI member was questioned by US Security and Intelligence Agencies. Furthermore, each member submitted an individual application to the UNHCR in order to be considered a refugee and eligible for relocation to a third country. During these years, anyone who could not tolerate the difficulties of being part of the resistance to the religious dictatorship has had the opportunity to leave as some have.
We are fully aware of the false allegations against the PMOI, spread by the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and its agents in Europe. These allegations have been refuted not only by the PMOI, but also by other independent sources, including several US Army officers who were responsible for the safety of Camp Ashraf in Iraq, when the PMOI was based there.
At a time when the public debates the danger of fake news and its misuse by authoritarian regimes to mislead the public opinion, it is only regrettable that the Channel 4 News has fallen in Tehran’s trap and is providing a public platform to the regime in Tehran and its collaborators to lend credibility to their propaganda against the legitimate Iranian opposition to the ruling theocracy.
This malicious campaign is nothing new and forms a crucial part of the state-sanctioned efforts by the regime in Tehran to counter the increasing global and domestic support for the Iranian opposition coalition, the NCRI as a viable alternative to the ruling theocracy in Iran.
The timing could not be a coincidence. Today, months of growing popular protests across Iran is targeting the entire theocracy. At the same time, senior regime officials including the Supreme Leader, the President and IRGC commanders all have admitted publicly in recent months that the PMOI is organising these anti-regime protests.
This synergy between the organised opposition and the Iranian people on the streets demanding change terrifies the regime in Tehran. This explains its recent plotting of a terrorist bombing against the NCRI gathering in Paris on 30 June 2018 and also its illicit intelligence gathering on dissidents and PMOI supporters in the US, Germany as well as Iranian refugees in Albania.
These are just the known cases that were foiled and exposed by the authorities in these countries. An Iranian regime’s diplomat was arrested in Germany in July and is awaiting trial for providing the explosives that were meant to be used against the NCRI gathering for a free and democratic Iran in Paris.
Spreading false allegations against PMOI and its members living as refugees in Albania, which aims to tarnish the image of the principal opposition to the theocratic regime in Iran will inevitably help this regime and legitimise its suppression of the opposition and more specifically will lay the ground and justification for more terrorist plots against the PMOI members in Albania.
We hope that the Channel 4 News will reconsider the decision to broadcast this report in its current version and deny the regime in Tehran the opportunity to take advantage of Channel 4 to validate its propaganda and lies against the organised Iranian opposition.
British Committee for Iran Freedom
2 September 2018