Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, January 21, 2021—An Iranian regime agent who was posing as an independent political scientist in the U.S. was outed and arrested, according to a statement by the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday.
“A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, also known as Lotfolah Kaveh Afrasiabi, with acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),” the statement reads in part.
For over a decade, Afrasiabi pitched himself to Congress, journalists, and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said. “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,” Demers added.
While Afrasiabi had penned numerous articles and had been interviewed by several top-tier publications and news broadcasters, he had never declared that he was being sponsored by the Iranian regime and he had used his position to spread the propaganda of Tehran.
Demers said that Afrasiabi had “intentionally avoided registering with the Department of Justice as the Foreign Agents Registration Act” and “evaded his obligation to disclose who was sponsoring his views.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said, “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.”
And William Sweeney, FBI Assistant Director in Charge at the New York Field Office, said, “Anyone working to advance the agenda of a foreign government within the United States is required by law to register as an agent of that country,” a requirement that Afrasiabi had intentionally disregarded.
Kaveh Afrasiabi and Javad Zarif
Interestingly, Afrasiabi did not make great efforts to hide his ties to the Iranian regime. He has frequently posed for photographs with high-profile regime officials such as former president Mohammad Khatami, current foreign minister Javad Zarif, and deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi. This is a privilege that is only offered to Iranian expats who are very cozy and friendly with the Iranian regime.
Kaveh Afrasiabi and Iranian regime president Mohammad Khatami
Among Afrasiabi’s key missions was to promote the appeasement policy with the Iranian. Afrasiabi is also closely tied with the Iranian regime’s known lobbyists in the U.S., including Princeton Professor Hossein Moussavian, the regime’s former ambassador to Germany. In 2012, Moussavian and Afrasiabi co-wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, in which they criticized firm policies toward the regime and called for more concessions to the regime.
Previously, in 2009, Afrasiabi attended an event hosted the Iranian regime’s mission at the United Nations and criticized media coverage of the regime’s brutal crackdown on nationwide protests.
Afrasiabi was also closely tied to the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a known and disgraced lobby of the Iranian regime in the U.S. Afrasiabi’s articles were frequently cited by NIAC’s website.
Afrasiabi has also been regularly interviewed by outlets such as The Washington Post and Cable News Network (CNN).
Kaveh Afrasiabi and Iranian regime deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi
Afrasiabi was also actively involved in demonizing and discrediting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) through his channels in western media. In 2016, Afrasiabi wrote a column in Eurasia Review in which he criticized Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for meeting with NCRI president-elect Maryam Rajavi. In the article, Afrasiabi rehashed the regime’s rhetoric about the MEK and NCRI having no support in Iran.
In another article in the Columbia University’s Journal of International Affairs in 2019, Afrasiabi described the MEK as a “fringe group” and reiterated his support for appeasing the regime.
While Afrasiabi was using the democratic platforms of western countries to push his narrative against regime change in Iran, he never disclosed that he was being paid, supported, and instructed by a regime that cracks down on all forms of freedom of expression.
According to the Justice Department’s statement, “Since at least 2007 to the present, Afrasiabi has also been secretly employed by the Iranian government and paid by Iranian diplomats assigned to the Permanent Mission of the IMUN. Afrasiabi has been paid approximately $265,000 in checks drawn on the IMUN’s official bank accounts since 2007, and has received health insurance through the IMUN’s employee health benefit plans since at least 2011.”
In his correspondence with Iranian regime officials, Afrasiabi never made a secret of where his allegiance lies.
in January 2020, following the killing of Iranian regime terror master Qassem Soleimani, Afrasiabi emailed the regime’s Foreign Minister and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and proposed that the regime “end all inspections and end all information on Iran’s nuclear activities pending a [United Nations Security Council] condemnation of [the United States’] illegal crime.” Afrasiabi claimed that such a move would, among other things, “strike fear in the heart of [the] enemy.”
In other correspondence with regime officials, Afrasiabi referred to his many published articles and books and admitted: “Without support none of this would have been possible! This has been a very productive relationship spanning decades that ought not to be interrupted.”
While Afrasiabi awaits to face justice, it should be noted that his case is not an isolated one. Over decades, the Iranian regime has spent the Iranian people’s wealth and resources to implant many such agents in the U.S. and Europe. These individuals pose as journalists, experts, and sometimes regime opponents, while in reality the push the regime’s agenda against the Iranian Resistance and a firm policy toward the regime. Afrasiabi’s case is a cautionary tale for all politicians and media to think twice before heeding the words of so-called experts who openly endorse a terrorist regime whose hands are drenched with the blood of millions of innocents across the world.