AP outsources news to Iranian propaganda arm

What’s wrong with this article? Take a moment, read through it, and come back. I’ll wait.

So many things. But let’s start with the number one issue: The AP uncritically passes along the Iranian government publication’s description of the hanging of a man accused of spying for Israel as absolute. There is no “alleged,” no “the government says,” in fact, there are no qualifiers whatsoever that the “reporter” has done no original reporting whatsoever, but is simply parroting IRNA. What is IRNA? It’s the Iranian government-funded and controlled news agency. That’s like quoting Pravda uncritically during the bad old days of Communist Russia. So yes, there’s a major ingredient of a news article missing here. It’s called “investigating,” not “parroting propaganda.”

According to IRNA, Siadat confessed to spying for Israel starting in 2004 in return for $60,000, as well as an additional $7,000 each time he met with Israeli handlers. IRNA said he met up with Israeli intelligence agents during “foreign trade” trips to Turkey, Thailand and the Netherlands and that he transferred data through a digital camera, transmitters and laptop.

IRNA reported that Siadat was arrested in 2008 while planning to flee Iran. There were no details on whether Siadat was a government employee or how he obtained the classified information.

There was no immediate comment on the execution from officials in Israel.

[…] Espionage is punishable by death under Iranian law. Iran and Israel have been enemies since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, with Tehran periodically announcing arrests of people suspected of spying for Israel.

The next paragraph should go on to say that the Iranian regime frequently calls opponents spies and sends innocent men and women to prison for that “crime.” But it does not. Instead, we get a listing of Iran’s spy trials as if they were absolutely rock-solid, including one of Iran’s most egregious “Israeli spy” scandals:

And in 2000, a court convicted 10 Iranian Jews of spying for Israel in a closed-door trial and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. All were released before serving out their full sentences after international pressure.

It was more than a closed-door trial. The judge was also the prosecutor. The Iranians presented no evidence whatsoever against the “spies.” It was clearly a frame-up.

The trial, which began April 13, has all the hallmarks of a judicial frame-up. It is being held under conditions that contravene all acceptable judicial norms. A Revolutionary Court judge acts as investigator, prosecutor and judge, and appoints the defence counsel. The trial is held in secret.

Some of the 13 were arrested in January 1999, while others were jailed in March of last year. The first of the defendants, Hamid Tefilin, is a shoe salesman. He was arrested eighteen months ago and held for five months incommunicado. The prisoners include shopkeepers, teachers and a 17-year-old student.

Defence lawyers have argued that the men should be acquitted, as the prosecution has not produced any evidence or witnesses to back up its case. The state’s case rests on the fact that nine of the thirteen men have admitted in court to involvement in espionage, some in televised confessions. The confessions were made without the presence of a lawyer.

Relatives insist the prisoners confessed under duress, after being held in solitary confinement for more than a year. Family visits have been limited to five minutes. Defence lawyers Shirzad Rahmani and Esmail Naseri-Mojarrad said their cross-examination of six of the accused showed that some of them had lied in their confessions.

The world put pressure on Iran because the charges were bogus. The defendants were arrested and held in solitary confinement until they confessed. Their lawyer received death threats for insisting his clients were innocent.

But sure, AP, just roll off the story without the relevant facts, because it fits the anti-Israel narrative.

I’d list the number of its own rules this story breaks, but this post has already taken long enough to write. The AP editors that let this piece through as is should be ashamed of themselves. News organization my ass.

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One Response to AP outsources news to Iranian propaganda arm

  1. Michael Lonie says:

    Iran’s is also the government that arrested 14 squirrels for being CIA spies. From YNet on 23 july, 2007:

    “Iranian intelligence operatives recently detained over a dozen squirrels found within the nation’s borders, claiming the rodents were serving as spies for Western powers determined to undermine the Islamic Republic.

    “In recent weeks, intelligence operatives have arrested 14 squirrels within Iran’s borders,” state-sponsored news agency IRNA reported. “The squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies, and were stopped before they could act, thanks to the alertness of our intelligence services.”

    “Iranian police commander Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqadam confirmed the report, saying that a number of squirrels had been caught bearing foreign spy gear within Iran’s borders.

    ‘”I heard of this but I have no specific knowledge on the subject,” he said. He refused to give further details.

    “Recently, Iran has increased its efforts in combating espionage by the West. The use of rodents has not been documented in the past.”

    Who could possibly doubt the Iranian assertions that someone is a spy?

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