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New York Times opinion writer arrested as alleged Iran agent, accused of writing ‘propaganda’ pieces

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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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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’

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Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social,  “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”

Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”

It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.

Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.

And the escalation of war is visible.

Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.

Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.

Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”

The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”

F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.

Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.

 

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