News : Human rights

Iran: Veil of Secrecy Barely Limited Regarding Intelligence Services

BY INU staff

INU - The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Iran had revealed formerly well-guarded information about the structure of its secret service apparatus. The information was released in a magazine article celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, and it praised the role of that ministry in securing Iranian domestic goals.

Chief among these goals is the expansion of the Iranian nuclear program, whose head of security, Ali Asghar Zarean, was quoted as saying, “If not for the Intelligence Ministry, our nuclear industry would have not been at the level it is today.” While this is acknowledged to mean that the intelligence services have apparently fought back against cyber-attacks and similar efforts aimed at damaging the nuclear program, Zarean’s comments presumably also refer to intelligence service tasks including the recruitment of scientists to work on that program, as well as the imprisonment or assassination of those who refuse to do so.

The nature calls attention to this latter task with its coverage of the campaign of 28 physics Nobel laureates to secure the release of Omid Kokabee, a young physicist who is serving a ten year prison sentence in Iran for refusing to work on the country’s nuclear weapons program.

Such political repression is one of the roles of the newly de-mystified Iranian intelligence service, which has been revealed to be comprised of 16 separate agencies all overseen by Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi. And with so many agencies under that umbrella, there are many other roles for it to play, ranging from counter-espionage and cyber security to domestic spying and intimidation.

The Tower indicates that despite the secrecy governing many of these repressive tendencies, increased international scrutiny is coming to be visited upon some of the human rights abuses in which the intelligence services are complicit. Specifically, much attention has been given to the spike in Iranian executions, as previously pointed out by Iran News Update. The Washington Times is the latest source of that scrutiny, pointing out that the Rouhani administration has been responsible for at least 936 executions over the past 14 months.

The revelation of these figures and the revelation of the organizational structure of the Iranian intelligence services do not seriously cut into the secrecy that the regime attempts to keep in place around its human rights abuses. One example of this is the tendency of keeping political prisoners in isolation, as lately exhibited in the case of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian.

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