IRIB chief Peyman Jebelli. UNdated

IRIB chief Peyman Jebelli

Iran TV Chief Downplays Brothers' Defection

Wednesday, 01/11/2023

The head of Iran's state broadcaster Peyman Jebelli has dismissed the defection of his two brothers interviewed by Iran International Tuesday.

In a video message he released on social media Wednesday, Peyman Jebelli said he had seen his brother’s interview, adding that such incidents were not unprecedented.

The chief of the IRIB, the key state propaganda machine, also tried to raise suspicion over his brother’s remarks in the interview suggesting that Meysam (Maysam) may have been under some kind of pressure, purportedly by a foreign government or group. “I’m not sure he made these comments knowingly and of his own volition.”

The interview followed the Time’s disclosure Tuesday that one of the IRIB chief’s brothers, Meysam had defected in early 2020 along with another brother, Meghdad, and that they had sought asylum after their nephew Mohammad-Amin’s tragic death in IRGC's downing of a Ukrainian airliner on January 8, 2020.

The report and subsequent information did not indicate where the brothers asked for asylum. The United States and Canada are the two most likely countries.

The IRGC fired two missiles at Flight PS752 only minutes after it took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States after firing dozens of ballistic missiles at a US military base in Iraq in retaliation of the targeted killing of Qods force commander Qassem Soleimani.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed Peyman Jebelli, a close associate of his son Mojtaba, as the head of the IRIB, in September 2021. Jebelli was designated by the United States in November and by Canada in October for his role in the regimes violations of human rights including airing of confessions extracted under torture.

Iranian hardliner politician and diplomat Saeed Jalili (center) during a visit to Peyman Jebelli’s brother (right) who lost his son in IRGC’s shooting down of the Ukrainian flight PS752

Jebelli’s nephew, the 29-year-old Mohammad-Amin who was among the 176 passengers of the flight, had been pursuing a Master of Health Science at the University of Toronto since 2018. Not only his uncle but his own father, Mohammad Jebelli, also chose to take the regime’s side over the incident.

The tragic death, however, did not shake the loyalty of Mohammad-Amin’s father and his uncle, Peyman Jebelli, to the regime and they chose to remain silent about the IRGC’s responsibility in the incident, Meysam told Iran International. “He stepped in his own son’s blood,” Meysam says.

When Meysam tried to convince his brother Peyman that the plane had been struck by missiles as video footage that emerged on social media indicated, the IRIB chief denied the authenticity of the footage and claimed it showed Israeli air defense exercises.

When the truth came out three days later and Meysam confronted him again, the IRIB chief only said “Good for you that you realized that [before its public announcement]!”

Meysam says he was not pro-regime like his other brothers but after the downing of the plane, which he calls “murder by the Islamic Republic”, he decided to openly denounce the regime. “It was time to take sides.”

In a tweet after Meysam’s disclosure of his and his brothers’ disputes over the incident, Canada-based activist Hamed Esmaeilion, whose daughter and wife were killed in the crash, revealed that the two Jebelli brothers who have defected have been members of an association seeking justice for the victims of Flight PS752 for a long while.

“What matters about the Jebelli brothers, Meysam and Meghdad, … is not defection but their choosing the right side of the history. They did not remain silent,” Esmaeilion wrote.

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