London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Former Iranian president Seyed Mohammad Khatami spoke out against the widespread surveillance on prominent figures in Iranian public life on Tuesday, accusing Iran’s intelligence service of fabricating incriminating evidence against him, using recordings of private conversations.
In a meeting with the former provincial governors from his administration, Khatami said “[the intelligence services] have created such an atmosphere of fear that everyone fears being under surveillance. In my case, I wish that accurate accounts of surveillance would have been passed on to higher authorities, not the incorrect and utter lies that have been quoted on my behalf in certain bulletins that is provided to high ranking decision makers”.
In the aftermath of Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, the majority of reformist politicians and activists became subject to increasingly intense government surveillance, more periods of detention, and travel bans.
The reformist former president clashed several times during his term in office with Iran’s security services, elements of which were implicated in a series of notorious murders of prominent intellectuals.
Despite being a former president, it is widely believed in Iran that Khatami’s movements are watched and controlled by the Iranian government. Khatami has not attended a series of events abroad he has been invited to, and failed to travel to the funeral of Nelson Mandela, despite having expressed his wish to do so.
As part of his election manifesto, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani promised to reduce state intrusion into citizen’s lives. He has made little progress so far, leading to criticism from activists and human rights campaigners.
One Iranian MP, Ali Motahari, complained in July that his office had been bugged, and submitted a letter of protest to Iran’s Intelligence ministry. On Saturday, Motahari said that two officials from ministry had been removed from office, but his claims were disputed by the editor of the hardline conservative Keyhan newspaper, Hossein Shariatmadari, who said that they were dismissed by the new Rouhani administration.