Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Naser Kanaani, stated on Monday that he had no knowledge of the recent visit to Iran by American porn actress Whitney Wright, which has stirred controversy among many Iranians.
“I don’t know about the matter you are referring to,” Naser Kanaani said when asked by a reporter Monday at his weekly press briefing about “an American national’s visit” to Iran. “American citizens are not prohibited from traveling to Iran,” he said.
Wright's visit to Iran last week ignited a firestorm on Iranian social media. Some social media users have alleged that authorities either invited or facilitated her visit due to her outspoken anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian stances. She further stirred controversy by sharing photos of herself wearing a full hijab, in compliance with Iran's dress code for women, and asserting that Iran is safe "if you follow the rules."
The 32-year-old pornographic actress and erotic model, born in Oklahoma with mixed Welsh and Native American heritage, is known for her strong support of Palestine and vocal anti-Israeli sentiments.
Critics argue that Wright's claim of Iran's safety ignores the fact that not only is pornography banned in Iran, with severe penalties for those involved in its production, but ordinary Iranian women also face humiliation and arrest for not adhering to the country's strict dress code.
In 2018, Iranian web designer Saeed Malekpour, based in Canada, was arrested during a visit to Iran and subsequently sentenced to death for his involvement in designing and moderating pornographic websites. Malekpour, who later managed to flee Iran, maintained that he had no knowledge that his software could be used for sharing pornography.
The Tasnim news agency, linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), quoted "an informed source" on Monday, stating that Wright had not been invited to Iran by any government entity. According to the source, she traveled to Iran privately after obtaining a visa, and visa authorities were unaware of the nature of her profession.
Tasnim also claimed that Wright's visits to locations such as the former American embassy compound in Tehran and the Golestan Palace were entirely her own initiatives and conducted privately.
One of Wright's posts featured her posing beside a lowered American flag at the former US embassy compound in Tehran. In another post, she stood beside a Statue of Liberty, behind which a mural depicted the statue's face as a skeleton on the wall.
Additionally, her posts included a photo of a wall adorned with images of Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the IRGC's extra-territorial forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militant leader, and Muslim "revolutionaries" from various countries, including Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. This photo appears to have been taken at the former US embassy building.
Wright expressed disappointment in her post that images of Palestinian revolutionaries were not included in the display.
The embassy compound was seized by revolutionary students in 1979, who held embassy staff hostage for 444 days. The Basij militia organization, affiliated with the IRGC, has been stationed at the former US embassy compound in Tehran since 2018.
In response to criticism, Wright disabled comments on her posts and defended her actions, stating, "Posting photos of my trip to Iran now means I'm pushing Iranian propaganda? I'm sharing exhibits from a museum that are rarely seen. It's not an endorsement of the government." She later removed the photos and videos taken in Iran from her social media platforms following reports by numerous Iranian users.