The public-relations department of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s office has denied that the president is in possession of an audio tape which reveals fraud in the 2009 presidential elections.
On Saturday, April 27, the Baztab website published an article titled “Ahmadinejad’s Eight Million Tape In the Face of Mashaei’s Disqualification.” The article reported that there is a tape of Ahmadinejad speaking with political authorities in which they tell him that he received “16 million votes but in order for there to be no doubts about fraud and to create the appearance that the difference in votes received was large, we will announce that it was 24 million votes.” The source of this information is reportedly Esfandiar Rahim Mashei’s business associates. Mashaei is Ahamdinejad’s adviser and reportedly has ambitions to participate in Iran’s upcoming presidential elections.
Ahmadinejad apparently opposes the decision to announce a different vote total and tells the authorities in the tape to “announce the real votes of 16 million.” According to the official numbers announced by the Iranian government, Reformist candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi received 13 million votes and Ahmadinejad received 24 millions votes in the heavily contested 2009 elections.
The Baztab article speculates on three reasons why the issue of the tape could have been raised. One: “The tape doesn’t exist and it’s being used as a tool for psychological war against the Guardian Council.” The Guardian Council is the body which vets potential candidates and many speculate they will disqualify Mashaei from running for the presidency. Two: Ahamdinejad wants to “accuse the Guardian Council and system while protecting his place as someone who was really chosen by the people.” Three: “The tape exists,” an option that Baztab says is unlikely.
Immediately after publishing the article, Baztab removed it from the site. However, many social-media sites and blogs had already taken screenshots of the page and had copied and pasted the contents of the article for redistribution.
The president’s office released a statement which said that “following the publication of false news with the subject of “Eight Million Tape …”, from a site whose political leanings is clear to everyone, it is explicitly emphasized that the issue that was raised and what was attributed to the president is completely false and baseless.” Baztab is believed to be close to presidential candidate and Secretary of the Expedience Council Mohsen Rezaei, and it is being suggested that there are perhaps political motivations related to the presidential elections in publishing the article.
The statement continued that “although this article was deleted from the website a short while after publishing, the goal of publishing this article was bringing into question the 2009 elections and distorting the upcoming presidential elections by creating worry among the people about the protection of their votes, and ultimately decreases vote participation and removes the groundwork for an epic creation.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has named this year the year of “Epic Politics and Epic Economics,” and many presidential candidates and political figures in Iran have adopted this slogan and reused it in various capacities.