IRAN: Intelligence officer alleges link between Germany and opposition
First it was "Death to America."
Then "Death to Israel" and "Death to England."
Next up as a rallying cry for Iran's hardliners: "Death to Germany"?
A high-ranking Iranian intelligence officer told reporters in Tehran today of a link between Iran's opposition movement and European intelligence services, especially those of Germany, the western European state that is one of Iran's main foreign trade partners.
State media quoted the unnamed deputy intelligence minister as saying two German diplomats, nicknamed "Yogi" and "Ingo," had been arrested in connection with recent demonstrations in the capital.
"These agents used to exchange confidential information with German diplomats in the parties held by the [German] Embassy," state television quoted him as saying.
Iranian news agencies and state television also cited the official as saying an aide to opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi had admitted to "connections with intelligence services of a European country," the Iranian Labor News Agency, or ILNA, reported.
"This advisor to Mousavi had confessed intelligence services of European countries were getting [secret] information from him by providing him with bugging devices," the unnamed official said at the news conference, according to ILNA.
Few but the most die-hard pro-government Iranian pundits believe that Germany or any other country could have whipped up the unprecedented anti-government fervor that has shaken Iran and its political establishment for the nearly eight months since allegations of widespread vote-rigging marred the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But the latest disclosures show what some describe as the paranoia of Iranian officials and the methods of an ongoing campaign aimed at quelling a popular revolt against Iran's current hard-line establishment by painting the opposition as foreign dupes.
Iran's hard-line authorities say they believe the unrest is the result of a conspiracy perpetrated by their domestic rivals cooperating with Western intelligence, institutions and companies, with the aim of destroying the Islamic Republic.
For example, the intelligence officer alleged that Mousavi's highly popular Facebook page, run by a supporter in Germany, played a key role in the recent unrest.
"Through his Facebook page, Mr. Mir-Hossein Mousavi had called for his supporters to turn out" at demonstrations, the official was quoted as saying. "Mr. Mousavi has never denied the page was run by him."
The official also named Iranian exiled reformist opposition figures such as cleric Mohsen Kadivar, journalist Akbar Ganji, former culture minister Ataollah Mohajerani, filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf and former lawmaker Fatemeh Haghighatjou as members of a group serving both as representatives of Iran's opposition and as mediators between "domestic conspirators" and Western governments.
All are prominent Iranians and outspoken supporters of the opposition movement and longtime critics of the current ruling clique.
"All leaders of conspiracy joined a game organized by Western think tanks and intelligence services in view of overthrowing the Islamic Republic," state television quoted the official as saying.
Iranian authorities have arrested many top aides of Mousavi and other reformist figures, often holding them without access to attorneys or their families in solitary confinement wards of Evin Prison, where they typically undergo hours of grueling interrogation and sometimes physical abuse.
Among those recently imprisoned was Ali-Reza Beheshti, a Mousavi adviser and a son of a famous Iranian cleric.
According to the official, an unnamed confidante of Mousavi linked to Germany infiltrated Mousavi's office and passed confidential information abroad.
"He had been provided with espionage tools, which we seized when he was arrested," state television quoted him as saying.
The intelligence official said the "German diplomats" were involved in the Dec. 27 uprising against the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose disputed June 12 reelection triggered months of political discord. The latest protests coincided with the Shiite religious holiday Ashura.
"The Ashura riots had been orchestrated," the unnamed intelligence officer said, according to the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency. "In these riots, seditionists, anti-revolutionary elements and networks linked with [foreign] intelligence services were present."
State television quoted the official as saying the two German diplomats were arrested on Ashura distributing ribbons colored green, which signify the Iranian opposition.
"Mr Mousavi has a 'German Group' team, comprised of graduates of Germany," he said. "They promote the culture and ideology of that country."
Photo: Imprisoned opposition figure Ali-Reza Beheshti, an aide to Mir-Hossein Mousavi, speaks at a rally in Tehran last year. Credit: Associated Press