Anti-regime protests in Iran (archive)
Photo: Reuters
Iranians didn't understand his satire. John Stewart
Photo: AP

Jailed Newsweek reporter says Iran claimed he is Mossad agent

Canadian journalist for US weekly tells of his four-month ordeal in Iranian jail following disputed elections. His investigators claim he was agent of CIA and Israeli Mossad, tortured him because of interview he gave for satirical John Stewart Show

WASHINGTON - Maziar Bahari, a reporter for the US weekly, Newsweek, who was jailed in Tehran for four months, said that the Iranians accused him of spying for the US, Britain, and Israel. Bahari revealed the horrors he experienced in Iranian jail and recounted to insults and beatings he endured because of an interview he gave to a satire news show in the US.


The reporter, who has dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship, was arrested in Iran on June 21, just nine days after the disputed presidential elections in the Islamic Republic. He was apparently arrested for filming opposition riots despite regime orders. The authorities threatened to execute him, tortured him, and forced him to confess to crimes he did not commit on a video then released to Iranian television.


After being released 118 days later, Bahari gave an interview on Sunday to CBS' 60 Minutes in which he told of the tortures he underwent. In addition, he printed an extensive article in Newsweek in which he said that he returned to Iran in 1998 in order to make movies and write for Newsweek.


According to him, his Iranian jailors smeared him with allegedly having connections with the West. "Mr. Bahari, you're an agent of foreign intelligence organizations," said Bahari's interrogator, who clarified he was referring specifically to CIA, MI6, Mossad, and Newsweek.


Comedy of errors

The Canadian reporter noted how one of the Iranian wardens tried to connect him to "Jews and Zionists," but that the main allegation made against him was that he sells intelligence to foreign organizations.


During one investigation, he was asked about his participation in a dinner together with eight other journalists. "You are part of a very American network, Mr. Bahari," he said, as if summing up his case in a courtroom. "Let me correct myself: you are in charge of a secret American network, a group that includes those who came to that dinner party."


The investigators also presented him with a list of supposed conspirators that included Iranian artists and exiled intellectuals.


During the interrogation, the warden also asked Bahari why he interviewed for Jason Jones, a correspondent for the American satire show, The Daily Show with John Stewart. Jones dressed up as a spy for the satirical piece, which actually presented Iran in a more positive light. Bahari tried to explain that it was a comedy show, but the Iranian investigator was not amused. He grabbed Bahari's ear and whispered, "This kind of behavior will not help you. Many people have rotted in this prison. You can be one of them."


However, Bahari ultimately understood that the US administration was working to secure his release because his jailors started calling him Mr. Hillary Clinton as an insult, which, in the end, is a very good thing for an Iranian inmate.


פרסום ראשון: 11.23.09, 12:43
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