Khatami: Everyone feels heavily bugged

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Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.46.11 AM Former President Mohammad Khatami warned yesterday that electronic surveillance has become too prevalent in Iran, and that he too has not only been a victim of wiretapping by intelligence agencies, but that fabricated and distorted audio tapes have been used against him. Khatami is the latest official in Iran to address the issue of wiretapping. Conservative parliament member Ali Motahhari and hard-line Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari exchanged words recently about the dismissal of two Intelligence Ministry officials who were accused of bugging Motahhari’s office. At a meeting of former provincial governors under his presidency, Khatami said, “When we say citizen’s rights, it means this country has a system. It has a constitution and according those recognized rights, they have to be secured for the individual.” He continued, “In the midst of the war, Imam [Ayatolllah Ruhollah Khomeini] issued the Article 8 directive. What was that directive centered on? To create security for an individual in his personal and social life.” In 1982, Khomeini issued a directive in regard to personal privacy and civil rights for government security forces to abide by, which were to be implemented during the chaotic war and revolutionary days by senior judicial figure Ayatollah Mousavi Ardabili and then-prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Khatami continued, “[Ayatollah Khomeini] was sensitive to wiretapping because it destroys the most basic citizen rights, which are freedom and security, at least in a personal scope.” He added, “Is the issue of wiretapping today the way that Imam wanted it? Is it the way that is in our constitution? They have created an atmosphere in which everyone feels that they are under heavy surveillance.” In discussing how bugging and distortion have been used against him, Khatami said, “About myself I will say: If only they would bug and transmit just that to other places. I am aware of the articles and bulletins against me. Things are said that from top to bottom are lies. At least there should be truth to what is recorded and sent, especially what is sent to the elders.” On Saturday, Motahhari, who had claimed in July that his office was tapped, said that two officials from the Intelligence Ministry, a deputy intelligence minister and general manager, were fired for the incident. Shariatmadari disputed the claim, saying that the two individuals were removed because of personnel decisions by the new administration. President Hassan Rouhani’s special adviser and former intelligence minister under Khatami Ali Younessi said last week that the administration was still in the process of taking over the Intelligence Ministry and had not completely “captured” it yet. He was heavily criticized for his response to the question of whether he felt that the current intelligence minister had a negative view of the security atmosphere of the country. Ending Iran’s atmosphere of heavy security was one of Rouhani’s campaign promises. Younessi said that it would take up to a year for the administration to become established.