Rajavi Reacts to Petition ( Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – May 08, 2020)

Rajavi Reacts to Petition ( Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – May 08, 2020)

Rajavi Reacts to Petition ( Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – May 08, 2020)Iran Interlink, May 09 2020:… The petition addressed to Albanian PM Edi Rama has gathered over ten thousand signatures. In response, MEK have put all their Farsi efforts into swearing at Ebrahim Khodabandeh and the families. In response, some commentators have pointed out that MEK are becoming so wobbly that they are ‘vaccinating’ the members by making them write against their own families. In their writings the MEK claim those who began the petition are not really families of MEK members, they are agents of the Iranian regime, and their intention in coming to the camp is “to attack us with missiles”. Some people have commented, ‘Perhaps Albania can check at the airport that they have not brought missiles! Anyway, if anyone doesn’t believe they are related, they can do DNA tests!’ Rajavi Reacts to Petition ( Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – May 08, 2020) 

Rajavi Reacts to Petition ( Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – May 08, 2020)Families Write to Albanian PM Adviser Endri Fuga

Rajavi Reacts to Petition ( Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – May 08, 2020)

Rajavi Reacts to Petition ( Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – May 08, 2020)++ The petition addressed to Albanian PM Edi Rama has gathered over ten thousand signatures. In response, MEK have put all their Farsi efforts into swearing at Ebrahim Khodabandeh and the families. In response, some commentators have pointed out that MEK are becoming so wobbly that they are ‘vaccinating’ the members by making them write against their own families. In their writings the MEK claim those who began the petition are not really families of MEK members, they are agents of the Iranian regime, and their intention in coming to the camp is “to attack us with missiles”. Some people have commented, ‘Perhaps Albania can check at the airport that they have not brought missiles! Anyway, if anyone doesn’t believe they are related, they can do DNA tests!’

++ On the subject of this petition, Mansour Nazari in Paris wrote a short piece in Iran-Interlink, pointing out that: “It is interesting for me there are some ex members or ex supporters that when it comes to supporting the families, they distinguish between those who live in Iran and those who don’t, as though those who live in Iran don’t have the same human rights as others. They talk about their own families and criticise MEK, but when it comes to those families living in Iran they shut up. If you ask them, they justify it by saying they have a red line between them and the Iranian government.” Nazari expands, saying: “Whether you do this deliberately or not you are saying in effect that Rajavi is right. Rajavi says they are agents of the regime and you are saying the same thing. You are politicizing the plight of the families. This is what Rajavi wants to do. Therefore, I suggest you go away and think about this. If you really believe Rajavi is right, then go back to them. If you think Rajavi is not right, then why are you sacrificing the human rights of the families because of your views of the government of Iran?”

In English:

++ Most of the articles and commentary about the MEK in English concerns the tragic situation of the members in Albania. The petition raised by families of these enslaved individuals has collected over ten thousand signatures. Prime Minister Edi Rama is yet to respond. An article by Massoud Khodabandeh titled ‘MEK cult in Albania poses public health risk’ published by Responsible Statecraft gives context to the families concerns. With the MEK unaccountable and unchecked in Albania according to investigative journalist Gjergji Thanasi, nobody knows whether the cult members are protected from coronavirus, or infected. Albanian historian Olsi Jazexhi interviewed Anne Khodabandeh to discuss the issue. Any way it is looked at, there are so many questions that haven’t been answered by MEK or by Rama.

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Rajavi Reacts to Petition ( Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – May 08, 2020)

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Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In Albania

Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In AlbaniaMurtaza Hussain, The Intercept, April 23 2020:… Trump’s amplification of the post was bad enough on its own: Alavi is a supporter of a militant Iranian cult called the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, known as the MEK, an organization that was designated for decades as a terrorist organization and is widely hated inside Iran. What makes it even worse, however, is that Heshmat Alavi does not exist. As The Intercept reported last June, Alavi is a composite identity run by a team of MEK members based mainly at the group’s compound in Albania, according to defectors who were involved with managing the account and other sources. Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In Albania 

MEK Assassinated AmericansThe MEK’s dirty past includes the anti-Imperialist inspired murder of six Americans in pre-revolution Iran which it later celebrated in songs and publications

Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In Albania

TRUMP RETWEETED PRAISE FROM AN ANTI-IRAN HARD-LINER WHO DOESN’T EXIST

Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In Albania

ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, just a few hours after once again threatening to go to war with Iran, President Donald Trump shared a tweet from an account from someone by the name of Heshmat Alavi. Like many of the tweets the president circulates, Alavi was praising Trump, this time for his hard-line stance against the Islamic Republic.

Trump’s amplification of the post was bad enough on its own: Alavi is a supporter of a militant Iranian cult called the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, known as the MEK, an organization that was designated for decades as a terrorist organization and is widely hated inside Iran. What makes it even worse, however, is that Heshmat Alavi does not exist.

As The Intercept reported last June, Alavi is a composite identity run by a team of MEK members based mainly at the group’s compound in Albania, according to defectors who were involved with managing the account and other sources.

Heshmat Alavi is a persona run by a team of people from the political wing of the MEK,” a former MEK member named Hassan Heyrani, who helped manage the Alavi persona in Albania, told The Intercept in 2019. “They write whatever they are directed by their commanders and use this name to place articles in the press. This is not and has never been a real person.”

In a blog post published after The Intercept story, the Alavi account admitted for the first time that there was no real Heshmat Alavi, claiming instead to be using a pseudonym. “No, I will never reveal my real identity or photograph,” the account wrote. “No activist in his/her right mind would do so. That would place all of my family, friends and myself, both inside & outside of Iran, in complete danger.”

While the Alavi account has never declared itself a member of the MEK, the content produced under the name frequently toed a pro-MEK line. In the same post published after The Intercept story, however, the account explicitly stated its support of the group: “Why do I support the MEK? 1) They have an organization. 2) They have an agenda. 3) They are serious and dedicated.”

Under Alavi’s name, a steady stream of blog posts and tweets have been produced over the years, always advocating harsh U.S. policies toward Iran and occasionally sliding in messages of support for the MEK and its leadership. And it’s not just social media activity: Articles under Alavi’s name were published in an array of mostly right-leaning news outlets in the U.S. At least one of these articles, published under Alavi’s name in Forbes, was cited in the past by the Trump administration to the press to justify its aggressive Iran policy.

Following The Intercept’s 2019 expose, publications like Forbes, the Daily Caller, and The Diplomat that had published articles by Alavi either removed or updated them to reflect his nonexistence as a person.

WHILE NEWS OUTLETS with editorial standards showed a willingness to remove articles by people demonstrated to not exist, social media outlets like Twitter remain useful vectors for getting misinformation out to the public — as in Alavi’s case. Today, Alavi’s account still exists and is still producing superhuman amounts of content.

The account was briefly suspended following The Intercept’s report, but after a storm of pro-MEK advocates tweeting at Twitter’s support account and the company’s CEO, the account was reinstated a few days later. Twitter does not comment on its decisions regarding individual users, but a source familiar with the organization told the Saudi-government owned al-Arabiya news that, after temporarily being banned, the Alavi account was reactivated after being deemed a “credible use of pseudonymity.”

Social media companies have been under increasing criticism for their roles in helping amplify disinformation, including from sources connected to foreign governments and political movements. During the 2016 presidential election, troll farms connected to the Russian government were accused of helping sway American public sentiment over the vote. These activities are only believed to have increased since then.

The MEK, for its part, has a checkered history. A half-century-old revolutionary group, the organization has cycled through ideologies and tactics — from Marxism to democratic advocacy, from terrorist violence to protests and active lobbying in Washington — to rise to prominence. The turn toward seeking U.S. support is a decade-old tactic for a group that once allied with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and, in the 1980s and 1990s, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain.

This year, an Intercept investigation documented allegations by former members of the group depicting a cult-like atmosphere inside the organization. The former members detailed practices of forced sterilization, torture, and other methods of controlling followers.

Nonetheless, the MEK now has powerful allies throughout Washington. Most notably, as of today, the group has found a friend in the White House — a president who has never been uncomfortable with blurring the lines between reality and falsehood.

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Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In Albania

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” Heshmat Alavi Gate ” , Trump and MEK

 Heshmat Alavi Gate , Trump and MEKNegar Mortazavi and Borzou Daragahi , Independent, June 11 2019:…The “Heshmat Alavi” persona had a strong presence on Twitter and harassed Iranian journalists, academics, and activists who are critical of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organisation, a one-time armed guerilla group now holed up in Albania. There is no known link between the Iran Disinfo programme and the fake persona. At least one was cited by the Trump administration as proof against the effectiveness of the Obama-era nuclear deal. Some of the MEK articles were also picked up by US government funded Voice of America’s Persian-language service. Heshmat Alavi Gate 

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case " Heshmat Alavi Gate " , Trump and MEKMEK Cult Operatives Undermining American Democracy

” Heshmat Alavi Gate ” , Trump and MEK ( Donald Trump MEK Terrorists )

Outrage on Capitol Hill over ‘completely unacceptable’ US-funded scheme to shape Iran debate

‘This is something that happens in authoritarian regimes, not democracies’

Heshmat Alavi Gate , Trump and MEK

United States officials say they are outraged by a government-funded troll campaign that has targeted American citizens critical of the administration’s hardline Iran policy and accused critics of being loyal to the Tehran regime.

State Department officials admitted to Congressional staff in a closed-door meeting on Monday that a project they had funded to counter Iranian propaganda had gone off the rails. Critics in Washington have gone further, saying that the programme resembled the type of troll farms used by autocratic regimes abroad.

“It’s completely unacceptable that American taxpayer dollars supported a project that attacked Americans and others who are critical of the Trump administration’s policy of escalation and conflict with Iran,” a senior Congressional aide told The Independent, on condition of anonymity.

“This is something that happens in authoritarian regimes, not democracies.”

One woman behind the harassment campaign, a longtime Iranian-American activist, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Department over the years to promote “freedom of expression and free access to information.”

The campaign relentlessly attacked critics of the Iran policy on social media, including Twitter and Telegram messaging app, accusing them without evidence of being paid operatives of the regime in Tehran.

A spokeswoman for the State Department told reporters on Monday that funding for the “Iran Disinformation Project” had been suspended and is under review after it was reported that it went beyond the scope of its mandate by veering from countering propaganda from Iran to smearing domestic critics of White House policy.

State Department officials disclosed to lawmakers they had granted $1.5 for Iran Disinfo, which repeatedly targeted, harassed and smeared critics of Trump’s tough stance against Iran on social media.

Among those targeted were American activists, scholars, and journalists who challenged the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran.

The revelation that US taxpayer money was being used to attack administration critics has now sparked a flurry of queries.

“There are still so many unanswered questions here,” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter. “What rules are in place to prevent state-funded organisation from smearing American citizens? If there wasn’t public outcry, would the Administration have suspended funding for Iran Disinfo?”

Cold War-era US rules barring the use of government-funded propaganda against American citizens have been flouted for decades.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee accused the State Department of giving taxpayer money to operatives “accused of intimidating and harassing U.S. human rights activists, journalists, and academics who’ve criticized their hawkish policies on Iran.”

She added: “This is unacceptable and we will not stand for it.”

State Department officials speaking at the closed-door meeting admitted the project was out of bounds, according to Congressional staffers speaking to The Independent on condition of anonymity.

Both Democratic and Republican Congressional staffers were highly critical of the project and questioned whether US officials should continue to work with the contractor, E-Collaborative for Civic Education. The State Department spokeswoman declined to outline steps to prevent such an operation in the future.

Some have said the harassment campaign resembles those launched by the Iranian regime against its critics, as well as clandestine troll farms run by Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other autocracies in attempts to shape online debate and intimidate critics.

In a twist, Iran Disinfo has even attacked journalists deemed insufficiently supportive of the Trump administration’s policies at US-funded news outlets including Voice of America, Radio Farda, and RFE/RL.

The harassment campaign is one aspect of an Iran policy that critics have warned was overly politicised, incoherent and risky.

Defying American allies, the United Nations Security Council, and the advice of his own intelligence mandarins, Mr Trump voided the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year and launched an unprecedented campaign of sanctions and threats against Tehran, vowing to pressure the country into cutting a “better deal” than the one it forged with his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Seeking evidence that its policies were working and popular, the administration has relied an unconventional information sources, often citing obscure right-wing news outlets and think tanks.

E-Collaborative for Civic Education, co-founded by Iranian American activist Mariam Memarsadeghi, is a long-time State Department contractor.

It purports to promote democratic political life and empower civil society inside Iran, but it appears to have no presence inside the country and instead confines itself to engaging with Iranians in the Diaspora.

Congressional officials also confirmed to The Independent that one individual working for the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, an influential Washington organisation with hawkish views on Iran, is part of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education’s Iran Disinformation Project.

One Congressional staffer said he expected the State Department would examine “the extent of coordination” between Iran Disinfo project and “pro-war think tanks like the Foundation for Defence of Democracies.”

Over the weekend, The Intercept revealed that a purported Iranian activist, who had published dozens of articles on Iran in prominent outlets such as Forbes and The Hill, does not exist and is a fake persona run by a team of operatives connected to a bizarre Iranian political cult.

The “Heshmat Alavi” persona had a strong presence on Twitter and harassed Iranian journalists, academics, and activists who are critical of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organisation, a one-time armed guerilla group now holed up in Albania. There is no known link between the Iran Disinfo programme and the fake persona.

At least one was cited by the Trump administration as proof against the effectiveness of the Obama-era nuclear deal. Some of the MEK articles were also picked up by US government funded Voice of America’s Persian-language service.

Both the Alavi account and the US-funded account frequently accused Iranian Americans sceptical about the Trump administration of being dupes of the Tehran regime.

“It’s an outrage that the Trump Administration was funnelling taxpayer dollars to a smear campaign accusing US citizens of dual loyalty to a foreign regime,” Dylan Williams, vice president of the left-leaning Jewish-American organisation J Street, told The Independent.

“Decent people wouldn’t tolerate such state-sponsored defamation if the target was Jewish Americans and we shouldn’t when the target is Iranian-Americans.”

(End)

” Heshmat Alavi Gate ” , Trump and MEK ( Donald Trump MEK Terrorists )

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