Presidential adviser Ali Younessi told Iran Newspaper, which is published by the Rouhani administration, that only the Intelligence Ministry can determine who is and who is not a spy.

He said: “Only the counter-espionage department of the Intelligence Ministry can express an expert opinion on who is a spy and who is not.”

He continued: “Just as we don’t expect the Labor Ministry to perform the duties of the Industry Ministry, we have to accept that the Intelligence Ministry has proficiency in its work, and no other organization can enter that field and perform professional work.”

Younessi said that the Intelligence Ministry did not handle this recent wave of arrests of environmentalists on the judiciary’s claims that they were spying for foreign governments and that all of these cases should have been handed over to the Intelligence Ministry for further investigation.

He said: “Even if those arrested are convicted of spying, it will be hard to persuade public opinion [that they are actually spies].”

Younessi, who previously served as intelligence minister under President Mohammad Khatami and as a prosecutor in the judiciary, advised that these agencies must stop interfering in others’ jurisdictions, citing the case of Canadian Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi, who was killed in 2003 after being accused of spying.

Then-prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, believed that Kazemi was a spy, despite the findings of two counter-espionage agents, and sent her to the intelligence department of the Law Enforcement Force where she was raped and beaten. This caused blunt force trauma to Kazemi’s head from which she suffered internal bleeding for which she did not receive adequate medical attention, and later died as a result of.

This does provoke more questions about the suspicious suicides in Iranian prisons in recent months, especially that of the environmentalist Kavous Seyed Emami in early February.
However, it is important to note that these comments by Younessi are not indicative of a reformist or moderate person or faction. There are no moderates within the Iranian Regime, they would neither be appointed nor allowed to run for office.

These comments just expose the level of infighting between rival factions of the Iranian Regime, which have increased steadily since the Iranian people’s uprising at the start of the year. The members of the Iranian Regime are falling over themselves to reveal the crimes of another Regime member, hoping that it will save them, but it will not.

The only solution to the problem of arbitrary arrests is to side with the Iranian people and call for regime change.