A New York Times opinion writer was arrested and charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Iranian government last week, The Algemeiner reported.
Kaveh Afrasiabi, a former political science professor and former adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team, has been accused of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, “Afrasiabi allegedly sought to influence the American public and American policymakers for the benefit of his employer, the Iranian government, by disguising propaganda as objective policy analysis and expertise,” Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme said.
The press release states that Afrasiabi has a PhD and frequently publishes books and articles. He also appears on American television programs discussing foreign relations matters, particularly Iran’s relations with the United States.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office now accuses him of pushing propaganda.
Afrasiabi was allegedly paid, directed and controlled by the Government of Iran to lobby U.S. government officials and to create and disseminate information favorable to the Iranian government for over a decade.
“For over a decade, Kaveh Afrasiabi pitched himself to Congress, journalists, and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran,” stated Assistant Attorney General Demers.
“However, all the while, Afrasiabi was actually a secret employee of the Government of Iran and the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations (IMUN) who was being paid to spread their propaganda. In doing so, he intentionally avoided registering with Department of Justice as the Foreign Agents Registration Act required.”
The Times published an opinion article co-written by Afrasiabi in 2018 that called for a meeting between former President Trump and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.
“Mr. Trump and Mr. Rouhani should listen to reason and take the opportunity this month to sit down for a face-to-face conversation. It would be the truly bold thing to do,” the article states.
In 2012, The Times published an article by Afrasiabi which claimed world leaders gathering in Tehran for a summit would “elevate Iran as the movement’s new president for three years and enhance Tehran’s regional and international clout” but “unfortunately, the United States … adopted a purely negative approach toward the Tehran summit.”
In a statement to The Algemeiner, Afrasiabi called the government’s claim that he was a secret Iranian agent “absurd” and “wild.”
“Whatever I did was perfectly legal and fully transparent,” Afrasiabi said.
“My conscience is clear, and if the U.S. government had an iota of sense of appreciation, they would thank me for all my tireless activities for the cause of detente, non-proliferation, human rights, inter-religious dialogue and understanding.”
Afrasiabi acknowledged that he was paid by the Iranian mission at the United Nations.
“I received checks from the Mission’s UN account and it never occurred to me that I was doing anything illegal,” he said.
Afrasiabi said that he was not lobbying America on behalf of Iran, but rather lobbying Iran on behalf of America.
Afrasiabi was ordered released Friday, on the condition that he have no contact with any known, current, or former members of the Iranian government unless in the presence of his lawyer. He was also required to post a $250,000 unsecured bond, and family members posted an additional $325,000 in unsecured bonds.
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy
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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world
China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.
Key findings of the report are below.
“Persuaded to return”
According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.
Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.
The Nine Forbidden Countries
China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.
According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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