Presidential Candidate’s Father Denies Ties to Shah’s Secret Police

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An interview with the father of presidential candidate Kamran Bagheri Lankarani with opposition website Rooz Online on April 29 has resurfaced and gained traction recently in Iranian media. Lankarani, who has the backing of hard-line Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s Endurance Front, is a physician and was health minister under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first term.

Although Manoucher Lankarani has lived in the United States since before the 1979 revolution, his alleged ties to SAVAK have always hung over Lankarani’s larger political fortunes. SAVAK was a domestic intelligence agency which was accused of repression and torture of political dissidents before the revolution.

When asked in the Q&A with journalist Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah if it was true that he was an employee of SAVAK, Lankarani initially said, “No, I don’t even know what SAVAK is.” When pressed again, he said, “I’ve never had any connection to political activity. I’ve had no connection to SAVAK or any other agency. I don’t now, nor have I ever had any. Those who say that I was a member of SAVAK are making a strange mistake because there are no files or documents to show such a thing.”

When asked by Yazdanpanah why he believes the accusations have been made about him, Lankarai said, “It’s a senseless attack ad; this is one of those false attack ads.” He continued, “I owned a factory. I first worked at American Pars factory, then I had my own aluminum factory.”

Asked if he thought that these accusations would result in Lankarani being disqualified, Lankarai said, “Assume I was a bad person, what relation does this have to my son? He shouldn’t be condemned because of me.” When asked if he was a monarchist, Lankarani emphasized, “I’ve never done anything. I was a simple worker at a factory.”

Of his son’s presidential ambitions, Lankarani also said that not only did he not vote four years ago, but that he “[doesn’t] want him to become president. If he wants to serve, I would want him to serve the people through his practice in medicine.”

The spokesman for the Guardian Council, which vets potential candidates, spoke today about a potential candidate’s age and physical ability to perform. Abbasali Kadkhodaei said, “Until this round, of those who have registered, no individual has had a particularly old age or disability for us to discuss. But if someone intends to hold a position with such large managerial and administrative duties, and has the ability to only work a few hours a day, it’s natural that he won’t be approved.” Of the registered candidates, at 78, former president Hashemi Rafsanjani is one of the oldest candidates, and his age has been an issue raised in the last few days by various media.

Seyed Ezatollah Zarghami, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), has said there will be live televised debates during the campaign. There had been conflicting reports on whether live debates would take place after the last election’s debates in which candidates mercilessly attacked one another and revealed information that had never been shared before on IRIB. However, the debates did create election excitement and contributed to the high voter turnout. Zarghami also said that after the Guardian Council announces its list of approved candidates tomorrow, there will be special programs on each of the candidates in coordination with their representatives.