RFE/RL: Are Iran’s Opposition Leaders Billionaires?
The following commentary is reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington D.C. 20036.
Are Iran’s Opposition Leaders Billionaires?
By Golnaz Esfandiari
August 26, 2010
Iran’s intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, has repeated the accusation that the leaders of the opposition Green Movement received a billion dollars from Western countries.
Moslehi said that the allegations made by Guardians Council head Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati about the financial assistance of foreign countries to the “leaders of the sedition” is not only true, but that the amount given was probably higher.
He added that a detained individual close to the opposition leaders had confessed to have received a significant amount of money from Iran’s “enemies.”
Jannati said on July 27 that he had obtained documents that prove the leaders of the opposition have received $1 billion from the United States.
“The Americans gave the leaders of the sedition $1 billion through the Saudis, who are now the agent of the U.S. in the region. The Saudis who spoke on behalf of the Americans told them that if they managed to overthrow the regime, they would give them up to another $50 billion,” Jannati said.
His comments were condemned by opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi, Mehdi Karrubi, former President Mohammad Khatami, as well as Iran’s largest reformist party, Mosharekat, who accused him of lying and demanded he provide proof for his allegations.
Jannati hasn’t made public any proof to back up his accusation, nor did Intelligence Minister Moslehi, who on August 25 confirmed his controversial claim, or conservative legislator Mohammad Rasayi, who said earlier this month that Khatami was the one who received $1 billion in a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah.
Iranian officials have claimed on a number of occasions that the opposition movement was backed by foreign countries. The claim of astronomical funds received by the opposition leaders seems to be part of attempts by the authorities to discredit the opposition.
Accusations of receiving financial support from foreign countries became common under Khatami, when conservatives would accuse pro-reform journalists and activists of receiving dollar-stuffed suitcases from Western countries to write critical articles and harm the Iranian establishment.