European MP Ties to Islamic Republic of Iran
By David N. Neumann
After lashing out against opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran in several parliamentary debates, a member of the European Parliament has admitted to doing the bidding of Tehran. In a meeting in Brussels, Portuguese socialist MEP Ana Gomes acknowledged that she had been instructed in Tehran to bash the Iranian opposition.
“I met with relatives of the victims of a terrorist organisation called MEK,” she said on her visit to Tehran in a meeting of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on 22 February 2018. After making a number of allegations about the Iranian opposition movement PMOI or MEK, she added: “We cannot continue to allow some members of this parliament, possibly out of naiveté, to continue to abet some of the members of this organization.”
Her claims are particularly surprising, given that competent European and American courts all rejected the terrorist designation of the Iranian opposition years ago. The label had originally been imposed at the behest of Tehran; the only state that currently calls MEK as terrorist is the Iranian government.
Top leaders of the Islamist regime have all blamed the recent nationwide uprisings in Iran on the MEK, while calling for the execution of those arrested as protest leaders.
Last week the Habilian Association, an affiliate of Iran’s notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), published a report about the visit of European lawmakers. Habilian, which claims to be “an NGO run by families of Iranian terror victims,” pointed to the speech of its Secretary General, Mohammad Javad Hasheminejad, as the only non-parliamentarian speaker at a joint meeting between the visiting members of the European Parliament and Iranian MPs on 14 February 2018.
During the meeting with the European delegation, Hasheminejad criticized the visits to the European Parliament of Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi. Later he held a separate meeting with Ana Gomes in which he “praised her brave stance against the MEK,” adding that “she welcomed Habilian’s proposals for more collaboration in future.” The report added that the MEP said that she had been accused by Iranian exiles of being on Tehran’s payroll.
Ms Gomes has been proudly promoting photos of her Tehran visit on twitter and social media, raising questions about how she was allowed to spend so much time cozying up to the “terror victims,” while her colleagues in the same European delegation were denied contact with lawyers and relatives of political prisoners. In fact, the lawyer and mother of Swedish-Iranian doctor Ahmadreza Jalali, who is currently on death row on baseless accusations of espionage, had come for a pre-arranged meeting with the MEPs at their hotel in Tehran. “We were just beginning our conversation when two people from the regime’s security officials intervened and stopped the meeting,” MEP Lars Adaktusson told Swedish radio on his meeting with Jalali’s relatives, adding that the lawyer was forced to leave the hotel.
Ms Gomes accused other members of the European Parliament of “naiveté” for supporting the Iranian opposition, but the two incidents suggest quite the opposite. Why would Iran, one of the world’s worst human rights violators with the highest per capita number of executions in the world, praise the Portuguese MEP and give her such free access to certain individuals, while denying her colleagues access to others?
One of the “victims” whom Ms Gomes has been promoting in her photos is Ibrahim Khodabandeh, named by a 2012 US Library of Congress report as an Iranian intelligence (MOIS) agent. Khodabandeh’s sister-in-law, an English woman based in Leeds, also named as an MOIS operative in the same report, visited the European Parliament last December and spent half a day in Gomes’ office. A week after that visit, Gomes used a parliamentary debate in Strasbourg to demand the expulsion of Iranian opposition activists from the European parliament.
Several European intelligence agencies have reported on Iran’s focus on MEK. Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution or ‘BfV’ stated in its latest annual report, in July 2017: “The main focus of MOIS is in particular on the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) and its political umbrella, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).”
Ana Gomes’ close relations with the Islamic Republic is nothing new. But her obsessive use of every opportunity to slam the Iranian opposition and her wholehearted commitment to openly accommodating Tehran’s interests is rather puzzling.
Political Writer David N. Neumann got his MA in political science in United States. He lives in Berlin and writes freely on a variety of topics on domestic and global issues.