A person who often wrote for The New York Times was charged with working for Iran as a paid spy. The Times didn’t seem to care about the charges.
After publishing more than a dozen articles and letters to the editor by Kaveh Afrasiabi, the New York Times finally admitted that he was facing federal criminal charges. This was in the context of a story about how he was one of five Iranians freed in exchange for five Americans and $6 billion given by the US to Iran. The Times story didn’t talk about Afrasiabi’s work that was published in the newspaper, and it said that he was charged with “being an unregistered lobbyist,” which is not what the charges were.
In January 2021, Afrasiabi was caught. It was clear to The Algemeiner that he was getting paid by the Iranian mission at the UN. He stated his innocence, saying that he was and still is “an agent of peace committed to US-Iran reconciliation and peace and dialogue” and that his writing was motivated solely by his “moral responsibility as an intellectual.”
Last week, Iran attacked Israel, so now Israel is at war with Iran.
Now that President and Commander-in-Chief Joe Biden knows that a foreign spy is writing for one of the most-read newspapers in the United States, he has forgiven the criminal.
Biden’s “full pardon” of Afrasiabi, issued on Sept. 14, includes four terms.
It says Afrasiabi “shall not commit any additional crime against the United States,” that he waives any claims against the US or its employees, that he waives any claims to funds already seized, and that he “shall not accept or otherwise receive any financial benefit directly or indirectly, in any manner or amount, from any book, movie, or any publication or production, in any form or media, about his situation.”
Biden said that breaking the rules could mean the pardon was null and worthless. But those conditions might not be enough to make people who are against the prisoner swap deal with Iran happy. For example, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to say that he should “reverse” the plan because it “encourages Iran to take more hostages and gifts the regime billions of dollars.”
If the deal isn’t changed, you should at least get rid of all Iranian spies in the United States.
Right now, American citizens are being jailed for practicing their right to free speech. So, to say the least, the president’s pardon of a foreign spy is troubling. But now there is another incident that is linked to the first one.
The hidden Iranian impact in American colleges and the media is coming to light, and it looks like Afrasiabi, the man who was pardoned, is also involved.
The regular writer to The New York Times who was released from jail after being charged as an Iranian paid spy says he wants to go back to teaching.
“I am planning to resume teaching American politics and international relations as I did most recently in 2022 at Umass Boston,” Afrasiabi told The Algemeiner by email.
The charged foreign agent is no longer facing those charges, and they will also be paid to teach American politics in the US.
At least some of the Times’ coverage of the issue does something about it.
In a New York Times column published on Tuesday, Bret Stephens described “a high-level informal influence operation, involving a handful of scholars of Iranian descent, that was conceived and manipulated by the Iranian regime.”
Stephens added: “Over several years, the trio wrote guest essays (including in the Times) and gave scores of interviews to major Western media outlets, making them unusually influential in the debates about Iran.” That’s more candor than the Times has had with its readers about Afrasiabi, who, unlike the trio mentioned by Stephens, faced federal criminal charges and acknowledged being paid by the Iranian UN mission, Algemeiner notes.
In Facebook posts, Afrasiabi has offered a mixed reaction to the latest flap, which involves Ali Vaez, Dina Esfandiary, and Ariane Tabatabai and surfaced in a report by Semafor. “I never took these mediocre academics seriously, can’t figure out why US does?” Afrasiabi wrote. In a follow-up post, he added, “I am horrified at the McCarthyite witch hunt against three young Iran experts.”
In a thread on X/Twitter, Esfandiary insisted, “The Iranian government never directed any of my work or articles.” She also said, “The Iranian government never paid for me or any of my colleagues to meet with them.
Universities have always been a safe place for liberal ideas and counter-culture thoughts. But it’s not a good idea for teachers to work as paid or free foreign spies to support groups that are against the US and Israel, which is an ally of the US.
It’s scary that foreign spies are being forgiven when Biden’s political opponents are being persecuted and attacked.