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Who Is Salehi Amiri, Chief of Iran’s Olympic Committee?

Salehi Amiri, Chief of Iran's Olympic Committee

This piece sheds light on the background of the chief of Iran’s National Olympic Committee Seyed Reza Salehi Amiri, who had committed enormous crimes against the people and dissidents as a high-ranking manager of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Salehi Amiri is also one of the closest figures to the “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani.

According to human rights activists and official sources, Salehi Amiri—who also goes by the alias Seyed Reza Fallah – was directly involved in the torture and murder of political prisoners and dissidents in the 1980s.

On August 15, 2013, questions were raised about Salehi Amiri’s history when Rouhani nominated him as the Minister of Sports and Youths. During the Parliament (Majlis) session for a vote of confidence, MPs challenged his baseless plans and remarks. “I saw nothing in your plans but general words. You know nothing about sports,” said then-MP Shahla Bayat.

Salehi Amiri could not gain the vote of confidence for the Ministry of Sports and Youths. However, in a flagrant defiance to the Majlis, Rouhani appointed him as the Acting Minister of Sports and Youths on August 17, 2013.

Previously, VOA presenter Mehdi Falahati had revealed the intelligence background of “reformists” in a program. “Ali Rabiei, the former Labor Minister and the current cabinet spokesperson, was one of advisors to the MOIS Minister. At the time, Rabiei, as known as Ebad, was involved in human rights violations. Furthermore, Seyed Reza Salehi Amiri, as known as Seyed Reza Fallah, was Rabiei’s right-hand and special assistance in the MOIS,” Falahati said.

Also, a government-linked historian Abdollah Shahbazi quoted Rabiei as saying, “In coordination with Salehi Amiri, we put several dissidents in coffins, shut the coffins’ lid with pins, and sent them to Tehran. However, when the coffins were opened in Tehran, all the dissidents had died of suffocation.”

Rouhani Nominates Salehi Amiri for the Ministry of Islamic Guidance

On November 1, 2016, when Salehi Amiri attended the Majlis as Rouhani’s nominate for the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, MPs once again stressed on his record as one of the MOIS managers in the 1980s.

At the time, MP Ehsan Qazizadeh Hashemi, who is the brother of Rouhani’s former Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi, unveiled another part of Salehi Amiri’s notorious background as an intelligence officer.

“Brother Seyed Reza Fallah! Yes, this is your nickname… Did your services as [an MOIS agent] cause to a disgrace for you? Why did you not mention them in your curriculum vitae? Why did you hide them from MPs?” said Qazizadeh Hashemi. “Did you incidentally refuse to mention your period [as an MOIS agent] or you think that MPs neglect your background?”

Furthermore, the MP questioned Salehi Amiri’s intelligence history, saying, “If you gained MPs’ vote of confidence, who would you be in contract with our homeland’s actors? Seyed Reza Salehi Amiri or Seyed Reza Fallah?… The President denied his history as a colonel. Now, he appoints and nominates a colonel for the culture sector.”

Nonetheless, appointing Salehi Amiri as the Acting Minister of Sports and Youths or the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance is the tip of the iceberg, showing the Islamic Republic’s procedures for appointing high-ranking officials.

In addition to his previous positions, Rouhani appointed Salehi Amiri as the head of Documentary and National Library Organization. Furthermore, he was later appointed by the president as the chief of the National Olympic Committee on January 15, 2018.

He was also the director-general of Provincial Intelligence Department in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan and the MOIS deputy for strategic studies. Salehi Amiri was also one of Rouhani’s advisors for a period.

This appointment flagrantly defies international regulations of Olympic Committees, which reject political and intelligence-security agents as the head of countries’ Olympic Committee.

“I spent my day and night to counter anti-revolutionary forces. But should I be inquired for my history, today? Either they do not realize what are they saying, or they are intentionally benefiting the enemy,” said Salehi Amiri, defending his notorious background as an MOIS agent.

Moreover, Salehi Amiri is accused of several bribery files in the case of the Iran Insurance, which had been ignored despite numerous complaints so far. These above-mentioned facts prove that the chief of Iran’s Olympic Committee is an MOIS manager, interrogator, and murderer, rather than a sports expert, dissidents believe.

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