Iranian Spies Allegedly Tried To Recruit A US Journalist

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Erica Wenig Contributor
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An Iranian activist group asked an American journalist to participate in a conference critical of the U.S. and Israel, part of the enlistment of American thinkers willing to join Iran’s propaganda campaign.

Shane Harris was invited to submit a paper at the Tehran conference, sponsored by Iran’s intelligence services. An unidentified interlocutor emailed Harris in late May, according to Harris‘ recounting of the correspondence for The Daily Beast.

Known as the International Congress Of 17,000 Iranian Terror Victims, the activist group plans to convene its second annual conference in August. Its English-language website, packed with dizzying graphics, indicates submissions are due by June 30.

Harris writes: “OK, I thought to myself. You must have the wrong Shane Harris. I’m a journalist, not a commentator. The bulk of my writing on Iran has focused on what U.S. intelligence officials say about the the country’s cyber espionage and warfare capabilities. The Iranian government could hardly see my work as flattering.”

The state-sponsored conference wanted Harris to present an anti-U.S. foreign policy paper, presumably in Tehran. When Harris responded by email, inquiring what topics were preferred, the interlocutor gave him three options.

He could examine U.S. and Israeli attempts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, why the U.S. has a different position toward Israel’s nuclear capabilities or analyze “Iranophobia.”

Harris says he initially suspected the email was a ploy to recruit him after entering Iran, a spy trick used by Israeli and Russian intelligence services, according to U.S. intelligence officials who spoke with the correspondent.

Although its specific aims are unclear, the Congress on 17,000 could be part of Iran’s propaganda mission to overhaul the country’s image abroad, writes Harris.

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Erica Wenig