Former Ahmadinejad VP, Spokesman Sentenced to Prison in Iran
Two top advisors to former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013) have been sentenced to prison in Iran under national security charges.
Former Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei was sentenced to six and a half years in prison on September 12, 2018, for the charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state” and “insulting judiciary officials” by Judge Mousa Ghazanfarabadi of Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
Speaking to reporters, Mashaei’s attorney Gholamhossein Esmaili revealed that his client was also facing other charges including espionage.
Esmaili also stated that his other client, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a close adviser to Ahmadinejad, was sentenced by the same judge to five years and one month in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security.”
Mashaei and Javanfekr are expected to file appeals within the 20-day time limit.
Ahmadinejad fell out of favor with Iran’s ruling elite during his second term in office (2009-13) for promoting his own version of Iranian nationalism. After his presidency, he repeatedly criticized Iranian politicians.
Mashaei was appointed as first vice president in July 2009 shortly after Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election to a second term. But he was forced to resign after only a week due to strong opposition by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and hardline conservatives.
In the 2013 presidential election, Mashaei registered as a candidate but was disqualified by the conservative Guardian Council, which has the power to disqualify any presidential candidate. In 2017 Ahmadinejad was also disqualified from running for the presidency.
Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convened on August 25 and September 2, 2018, for Mashaei’s trial without the presence of reporters from non-state-funded media outlets.
Mashaei, 57, who was forced to attend court in a prison uniform, rejected the legitimacy of the trial and refused to defend himself in court, according to Tasnim News Agency, which maintains close ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“Mr. Mashaei! What was the connection between you and British intelligence agents and the Israeli intelligence service? Don’t be afraid. Answer!” said Judge Ghazanfarabadi in a clip posted online on September 2 by the Fars News Agency, also affiliated with the IRGC.
The judge also accused the former vice president of having relations with the widows of former Iranian generals who had served under Iran’s deposed monarchy, adding, “Why are you afraid to give answers about all these spies who were in contact with you. Explain! Defend yourself!”
Javanfekrm a former government spokesman and the director of the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), previously served six months in Evin Prison in Tehran between September 2012 and February 2013 for the charges of “insulting the supreme leader” and “publishing indecencies in violation of Islamic principles.”
Hamid Baghaei, Ahmadinejad’s VP for executive affairs from 2011-13, began his 15-year prison sentence on corruption charges in March 2018.