IRAN: Official admits his Oxford degree was fake
The official in charge of guarding against fraud and forgery in Iran's upcoming presidential elections says he submitted a phony Oxford law degree as evidence of his qualifications for the job.
Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan, an ally of hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, admitted in a letter to his boss on Saturday that an honorary degree he claimed he received from Oxford was fake, according to a Farsi-language report by Iran's Fars News Agency that appeared Monday.
He said he had been duped by an intermediary who had given him the degree. According to his letter, he submitted his qualifications eight years ago to an "an agency in Tehran for English-language affairs" that represents Oxford University.
He said he never doubted the authenticity of the degree, though it was filled with spelling and grammatical mistakes, until lawmakers began questioning his qualifications last summer. Now, he wants to pursue the guy who granted him the degree, though he doesn't name him. Here's his version of events:
I asked the liaison officer who was the link to Oxford University to refer to the university and get the documentation. The liaison officer assured me the documentation was flawless and the degree was authentic and genuine. Through an attorney in the United Kingdom, I followed the case. He also confirmed the degree was genuine. I found it necessary to send an envoy to the university and get reconfirmation... Unbelievably the degree was not confirmed. I tried to contact the liaison officer of Oxford University in Tehran and ask him the reasons. But the more I searched for him, the less I found any trace of him.
Kordan's claim that he was a hapless Iranian patriot suckered by some mysterious guy is being viewed suspiciously by many in the blogosphere. For now, at least, Iranian lawmakers aren't pushing for his impeachment.
But even if true, his admission that he was so clueless that he failed to figure out that his error-riddled degree was fake for eight years certainly won't help bolster his credibility when he's overseeing the elections next year.
After Iran's 2005 presidential elections, politicians accused officials supervising the voting of switching ballot boxes and performing other shenanigans to tilt the results in favor of Ahmadinejad.
— Borzou Daragahi in Beirut
Photos: At top, a scan of Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan's phony Oxford law degree. At bottom, Kordan shakes hands with an unidentified lawmaker during a parliamentary session in Tehran. Credit: Atta Kenare / AFP/Getty Images
P.S. Get news from the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates" and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.