Reuters: Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that televised “confessions” of two detained American-Iranians unveiled a U.S.-backed plan to topple Iran’s clerical establishment. By Hossein Jaseb
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that televised “confessions” of two detained American-Iranians unveiled a U.S.-backed plan to topple Iran’s clerical establishment.
State television aired a programme called “In the Name of Democracy” on Wednesday and Thursday, featuring interviews with Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, who Iran accuses of being involved in a U.S.-backed plot to stage a “velvet revolution” in the Islamic state.
Washington has called the programme illegitimate and coerced, urging Iran to immediately release the two dual nationals, arrested separately in May while visiting Iran from the United States.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the programme proved the United States had a long-term programme to “overthrow the system” in Iran.
“The confessions of the two detained people uncovers a long-term plan which America has invested in and has allocated a great budget for,” Hosseini told a weekly news conference.
Esfandiari, an academic at the U.S.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said on Thursday she had helped create a network “to lead to very fundamental changes in Iran’s system.”
Senior cleric Ahmad Khatami, member of a body with power to sack or appoint Iran’s supreme leader, said on Friday: “The confessions proved America wanted to weaken the system by using intellectuals.”
A U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said on Friday: “This should be an embarrassment to the Iranian regime. Is it really possible to imagine that a government is so fragile and so under siege that individuals coming to visit elderly family members threaten its existence?”
He said the U.S. request through the Swiss and other embassies in Tehran to have consular access to the pair, had been refused by Tehran. Tehran and Washington have no diplomatic relations since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
Tajbakhsh, a consultant with the Soros institute, founded by billionaire investor George Soros, told the same programme: “The aim of the Soros centre was to bring a model of the Western democracy” to Iran after an eventual conflict.
The U.S.-based Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute said it was “deeply concerned over Iran’s use of deliberately contrived television footage” of the pair.
The programme made no mention of two other American-Iranians detained on spying charges, one of whom has been freed on bail.
Iranian TV has in the past broadcast the so-called “confessions” by dissidents serving jail sentences for alleged attempts to undermine the Islamic Republic.
Washington is leading efforts to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, which Iran says is solely to generate electricity. U.S. forces have detained five Iranians in Iraq on charges of backing militants there.
The two countries are set to hold fresh talks in Iraq soon, following a landmark meeting in Baghdad in May.