By Atousa Pilger
Freedom of speech and free press are indispensable pillars and the greatest guarantee of democracy. Dictatorships ban free journalistic activities, or they use the press to consolidate their power. But when the Western media serves tyranny, we should be alarmed for a serious threat to our democracy. Unfortunately, the approach of some Western media vis-à-vis the religious fascism in ruling in Iran is one of the bitter experiences.
The Iranian regime Intelligent Service the MOIS hires western journalists to publish propaganda and lies against Iran’s main organized opposition movement the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The court ruling of the Press Chamber of the Hamburg Regional Court on March 21, 2019, against allegations made by Spiegel against the MEK Illustrates this fact.
The Press Chamber of the Hamburg Regional Court called on March 21, 2019, on the court to prohibit the making and dissemination of serious and criminalizing allegations made by Germain weekly SPIEGEL. The Hamburg Court declared that Allegations about "torture" and training for various methods of killing made by Spiegel in an article written by Luisa Hommerich on February 18, 2018, are false. The court emphasized that Spiegel has acted illegally, and principles of permissible reporting have not been observed. In addition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) have not been heard.
"It’s irrelevant whether the text passage is to be classified as an established factual claim or as an expression of suspicion since it would have been published unlawfully in each case. The untruth is to be assumed for the purposes of the trial. The principles of permissible reporting of suspicions have not been observed. The applicant was not heard on this matter. His submission in the petition shows that he could have made a firm statement on this," the court order further stated.
The court declared that Spiegel is threatened with a "fine of up to €250,000 to be determined by the court for each case of infringement, and in the event that this cannot be recovered.”
It is also important to remind that Luisa Hommerich traveled several times to Iran and took “selfies” with female Basiji’s, the force that daily harasses, forces and suppresses Iranian women because of the forced hijab rule.
Another example that testifies the Iranian use of foreign journalists are revelations of French journalist Armin Arefi from the Le Point Magazine about his visit to Tehran.
Armin Arefi said in an interview with French newspaper l’Opinion:
“Any journalist who wants to go to the Islamic Republic has to work with a semi-official agency that issues a press card and asks you a daily amount of money for provide you a interpreter with the task of translating your conversations with Iranian audiences as well as reporting your smallest moves on the scene. One of them is Mr. Nejati, whom I mention in my book, and he allowed me to go back to the Islamic Republic. But when I went to his office after nine years of not being able to go to the Islamic Republic, he puts me under pressure and makes me realize that he is following me. Eventually, I went to Iran for my media, Le Point Magazine, but I knew that there someone will oversees every article I write or small movement I make... “
“This person arranged a meeting with a number of representatives of Iranian “NGO’s” who were former members of the MEK. He wants me to meet with these people and I said I want to see them, but I do not guarantee to write anything about them. I will write something if I can have their (MEK) point of view in Paris as well, something I won’t have. At that time Mr. Nejati used this card to push me: “Where is your article left about the MEK? I told you this is good for and useful for your case to write something about them!” And I reminded him that because I do not have the point of view of the other side, I cannot do it and this, in turn, becomes a blackmail on the MEK. After a while I get angry and say that I have come here to do my journalistic job, including following the Iranian news and the issue of the MEK is the last occupation of my mind... "
Another example is CNN correspondent Christian Amanpour. Mohammad Hosein Khoshvaght, former Director-General of the Foreign Media Desk of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance during Mohamad Khatami’s Presidency told the official IRNA news agency on January 4, 2019: “Mrs. Amanpour visited Iran in 2003 for media coverage of legislative elections. When she returned to the United States, she published a report full of lies and blackmailing. I ordered to suspend her activities in Iran. A few month later she requested again to visit Iran and we announced that she is banned from her activities inside Iran. She was told that she had took “distant from moral professionalism in her articles. We pointed out that she must take apologize and give a commitment that from now on she observes “professionalism” regarding Iran. She did so and wrote a written apology and send it to us and this letter is still in her file in Foreign Media Desk of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic.
The regime tries to use western media as “impartial sources.”
The NCRI website said in this regard the following: “After the safe and organized relocation of the PMOI/MEK from Iraq to abroad, and after popular uprisings in Iran in January 2018 and the end of US appeasement of this regime, the Iranian regime has resorted to intense terrorism and disinformation campaigns against the PMOI/MEK and Iranian Resistance, believing this to be a remedy to its existential crisis. By spreading false information, the regime justifies its domestic massacres of the PMOI/MEK and prepares the ground for its terrorist operations on European and foreign soil. Additionally, it messages a lie to Western circles that there is no alternative to this regime and that if it were overthrown, conditions in Iran would worsen.”