Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ended his Dubai trip on Sunday after the Iranian Consulate prevented him from holding a press conference, sources told Iran International.
Officials blocked reporters entering the venue, the Iranian Club Dubai, the sources in the United Arab Emirates said. The Iranian Club Dubai is a luxury hospitality center belonging to the state-affiliated ‘charitable’ Mostazafan Foundation. Later in the evening Ahmadinejad returned to Tehran prematurely.
This was the former president's first visit abroad since his second term ended in 2013. Media supporting Ahmadinejad had said that he was going to visit Expo 2020, a trade fair.
Principlist media claimed that Ahmadinejad had been deported by UAE police. It had become clear he was up to "political games and populist activities" that would undermine Expo 2020, Jahan News wrote Monday.
The reason for his early departure is not clear. It could have been a request by Emirati authorities or an order from Tehran for him to return.
The Revolutionary Guards-affiliated Fars news agency Sunday called Ahmadinejad's trip a "desperate attempt to be seen" that ended when he was "advised by UAE authorities" to return to Tehran.
Ahmadinejad's trip was well publicized by supporters and had sparked speculation a foreign travel ban had been lifted. Ahmadinejad criticized Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for calling the June 18 presidential election an "epic" event, after he was barred from the poll. Ahmadinejad’s presidency saw him disagree with Khamenei, notably when heboycotted government meetingswhen the leader insisted that Heydar Moslehi remain intelligence minister.
Ahmadinejad gave an interview in Dubai to Independent Persian website covering relations with the United States, the Taliban, Saudi Arabia, the nuclear issue, Syria, and Yemen.
In the interview Ahmadinejad said he would not call himself an opposition figure. "I'm an Iranian and like any other Iranian I have a right to live and to express my views," he said. "If now someone is sitting at the head of the state, the country is not his, the country belongs to everyone and everyone has a right to express their views.”
In a video taken at Tehran's International Imam Khomeini Airport after his return, Ahmadinejad said he had intended to stay in Dubai three days but had extended his visit for two more. He promised "a full report” on his visit.
Some Iranian media last week published photos of Ahmadinejad with a woman claiming it was taken at the Israeli pavilion at the trade fair, while pro-Ahmadinejad media denounced this as a trick to tarnish Ahmadinejad's image. "Whoever says Ahmadinejad visited the Zionist regime's pavilion is a Mossad agent," Mohammad-Hossein Heydari, a pro-Ahmadinejad journalist tweeted.
Pro-Ahmadinejad lawmaker Ahmad Alireza-Beigi, who accompanied him to Dubai, dismissed an attempt to mislead the public. "The publication of this type of misinformation proves that Ahmadinejad's international popularity has worried those who lack such popularity and don't have similar travel chances," he said.