By: Greg Richter
An Iranian journalist and top media aide to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani defected while covering the nuclear talks in Switzerland and has accused the United States’ team of acting on Iran’s behalf in the negotiations.
Amir Hossein Motaghi defected late last week, saying he no longer saw any point in his profession in a country whose government told him what to write, the U.K.’s Telegraph reported.
Motaghi told the London-based Irane Farda, an Iranian opposition television station, that the American team is working to convince the other members of the U.N. Security Council nations and Germany – the P5+1 powers.
“The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the P5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” he said.
He told the station that a number of people attending the talks on Iran’s side are reported to be journalists, but that “their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels.”
“My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner anymore,” he said.
Motaghi had held a major press position for Rouhani. During his campaign, Motaghi headed up Rouhani’s successful social media efforts to bring his message to young voters through Twitter.
The Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA) confirmed that Motaghi had been in Lausanne to cover the talks, but had quit. Motaghi’s critics clamed he had gone to Lausanne only for the purpose of defecting.
He is said to be a friend of jailed Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian and had been lobbying internally for his release. The Telegraph said one news website reported that he had been tipped off that he would have been arrested if he had returned to Iran.