Iran’s Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib (file photo)

Iran’s Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib

Iran Intelligence Minister Berates Macron, Iranian women

Wednesday, 12/07/2022

French President Emmanuel Macron takes orders from a low-level CIA operative, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib told the official news website IRNA.

In an interview published on Wednesday, Khatib slammed Western leaders, especially Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for supporting Iranian protesters, and at one point implicitly called Macron a “clown”.

Iranian officials faced with the biggest popular protests in 43-year history of the Islamic Republic have been weaving a conspiracy theory that Western governments plotted to trigger protests in Iran, with the aim of weakening “the victorious” Islamic Republic.

Khatib, a hardliner cleric, ranted against the French president and claimed that Macron repeated whatever he was told by Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, calling her an “addict” and a “woman of the street.” He also described Alinejad as a low-ranking agent of the US intelligence agency CIA, and claimed that she “dictates” Macron’s positions about the protests and how to express them. 

President Emmanuel Macron shaking hands with Iranian activist Masih Alinejad

Khatib was referring to a November meeting between Macron and Iranian female activists, in which the president hailed the antigovernment protests as a “revolution”. Macron has been one of the first presidents who recognized the uprising as a revolution. According to the Elysee, the delegation of exiled female Iranian rights activists included US-based Alinejad, Shima Babaei, and Ladan Boroumand, the co-founder of a Washington-based rights group. Earlier in the month, Marcon and US President Joe Biden reiterated in a joint statement their “respect for the Iranian people, in particular women and youth.”

Iran’s intelligence minister also claimed that Macron's stance against the Islamic Republic has another reason, and that is the "identification and arrest of two French intelligence agents" by his ministry, referring to Cécile Kohler, an educator who heads the teachers’ union National Federation of Education, Culture and Vocational Training (FNEC FP-FO) and her husband Jacque Paris. In a video of forced confessions aired by state media in October, Kohler said they were in Iran to “prepare the ground for the revolution and the overthrow of the regime of Islamic Iran.”

Iran’s state media are infamous for purported confessions by prisoners in politically charged cases. Such prisoners are held without due process of law and usually cannot choose their own defense attorney. The Islamic Republic has detained at least seven French nationals on different charges including “spying for foreign intelligence services.”

Human rights organizations accuse Iran of a systematic policy of hostage taking over four decades from the earliest period of the Islamic republic after the ouster of the Shah, starting with the 1979-1981 siege at the US embassy in Tehran. Tehran denies any policy of hostage taking and insists all foreigners are arrested and tried according to legal process. However, it has frequently shown readiness for prisoner exchanges and participated in swaps in the past. 

Earlier in the week, Macron denounced “lies” by Iranian authorities in face of the “unacceptable” imprisonment of French nationals.

Khatib also spoke out against Trudeau for saying that 15,000 people in Iran face the threat of execution, calling him an “immature” official for believing such allegations. However, the Canadian premier’s remark was a reaction to a call by Iranian lawmakers who urged the judiciary to sentence the arrested protesters – who were estimated to be about 15,000 at the time – to death. Although Trudeau deleted the tweet about the death sentence, the threat can still be regarded valid as leaked data indicate that authorities are really considering executing many protesters. About 80 people are facing charges that can lead to the death penalty. The number of the arrested protesters has increased to over 18,000. 

Khatib said such politicians “are no longer those independent and powerful leaders of first-class European countries,” adding that they are dependent on the US and Israel and follow their policies. 

“This means that the Americans have practically taken Europe, especially France and Germany, hostage,” Khatib said, claiming that his statement "is not only an analysis of obvious observations, but also based on secret information.”

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