AFP: A top Iranian cleric said on Friday that televised interviews of jailed US-Iranian academics Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh had exposed a US plot to topple the Islamic republic. TEHRAN, July 20, 2007 (AFP) – A top Iranian cleric said on Friday that televised interviews of jailed US-Iranian academics Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh had exposed a US plot to topple the Islamic republic.
Iranian state television ran a controversial documentary, which has outraged Washington, showing the two scholars jailed in Iran for three months speaking of their roles in an alleged US drive to destabilise the Iranian regime.
“The unconventional and severe reaction of US media and statesmen even before airing the programme shows the Great Satan’s concern about the exposure of its plot,” Hojjatoleslam Ahmad Khatami said in a Friday sermon carried live on state radio.
Great Satan is a term used by Iranian officials for its arch-foe the United States.
The prominent conservative cleric said US officials’ reaction showed the programme aired in two parts on Wednesday and Thursday “has hit the target exactly and has exposed them with this soft propaganda against their soft coup.”
The televised interviews were part of a documentary titled “In the Name of Democracy”, which sought to link the academics to the US push to bring about a “Velvet Revolution” in Iran.
Urban planner Tajbakhsh and Esfandiari, who heads the Middle East programme at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, face charges of harming national security.
Esfandiari said during the interview that she and other individuals were involved in creating a network between foundations and research institutes in the United States and Iran.
Khatami charged that “the operational base of this soft coup has been a combination of press and intellectual circles, penetrating student groups and creating feminist movements.”
“A soft coup project belongs to the last three decades, before that the United States followed violent coups.”
The United States broke off relations with Iran in 1980 after Islamic revolutionaries seized the US embassy in Tehran and held its diplomats hostage for 444 days.