An Iranian journalist who wrote columns for the New York Times was arrested by the FBI on Jan. 19 on charges of acting and conspiring as an unregistered agent of Iran’s propaganda. It is not the first time the Times has used international writers accused of issuing political propaganda in certain quarters as columnists.
Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi was charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for his attempt to influence U.S. society for the benefit of Iran. Afrasiabi was arrested last week, but it was only on Thursday that the facts came to light. The Justice Department issued a statement saying, “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 continued, “Afrasiabi allegedly sought to influence the American public and American politicians for the benefit of his employer, the Iranian government, by disguising propaganda as objective and experienced political analysis.”
In 2018, The New York Times published an op-ed co-written by Afrasiabi that called for a meeting between President Trump and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. The Times described Afrasiabi as “a former adviser to Iran’s nuclear-negotiating team.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office also charged the Times with pushing propaganda.
“For over a decade, Kaveh Afrasiabi pitched himself to Congress, journalists, and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran,” Assistant Attorney General John 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.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office claimed that Afrasiabi received “approximately $265,000” along with health benefits from Iranian diplomats assigned to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in New York City (IMUN).
International agents in defense of foreign regimes have been published in theTimes on many occasions.
Hong Kong Executive Council legislator Lam Yik Fei wrote a column in October 2020 for the Times. He openly spoke out in favor of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the regime’s sovereignty over Hong Kong’s autonomous exemption.
In the column he openly condemns the sanctions imposed by the government of former President Trump on the CCP for the abuses committed in Hong Kong, assuring that nothing will change the fate of submission of Hong Kong by the CCP. He even went so far as to assert, “Hong Kong is part of China, whether Westerners like it or not.”
As Breitbart pointed out, the Times piece followed previous op-ed publications written by controversial figures such as Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
They are always showing communism as an example of sound policies, in contrast to the West and the United States in particular.