Former Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad looks unstoppable. He tweets, while Twitter is banned. He circulates videos on social media showering top officials in Iran with criticism showing little consideration for the existing “red lines”.
In his latest video circulated on social media, the hard-line former president condemned the verdicts issued against his media adviser and former chief of staff, describing them as brutal.
He also warned that whoever issued the verdicts and executed them, as well as those who have ordered them, will soon be prosecuted.
Hiding behind the excuse that the verdicts were issued according to orders received from higher authorities is not acceptable, Ahmadinejad said. “Soon the repentant and those hidden behind excuses will line up and soon popular trials will be held,” he warned.
Ahmadinejad’s right-hand man, Esfandyar Rahim Mashaei, was sentenced on September 12 to five years in prison for assembly and collusion against Iran’s security, one year for propaganda against the ruling establishment, and six months for insulting persons vested with the authority of the state’s judiciary. That comes to a total of six and a half years in jail.
On the same day, it was also announced that Ahmadinejad’s former media adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, was sentenced to four years for assembly and collusion against the country’s security. The defendant has the right to appeal, it was declared.
Earlier, the deputy president for executive affairs during Ahmadinejad’s second term, Hamid Baghaei, was sentenced to an unappealable 15 years.
Ahmadinejad’s latest video was circulated on his official Telegram Channel, a day after the verdicts against his closest allies were announced.
However, the video was originally taped on August 16 at Ahmadinejad’s meeting with cyberspace and virtual reality activists.
“The set is clear; it’s a frame-up. It’s a political confrontation disguised as a security-related case,” Ahmadinejad insists at the meeting.
Ahmadinejad goes further by maintaining that if his close allies belonged to the gangs of “money-syphoning” individuals, nobody would have dared to prosecute them.
Calling upon the judiciary authorities, Ahmadinejad said, “If you are really a ‘man’, [come forward] have a debate with Mr. Mashaei on TV. If you are ‘man’, come and compete among the people. If you are ‘man’, compete with us in management.”
Mashaei was arrested after he burned the verdict against Baghaei on March 15 outside the British Embassy in Tehran.
By doing so, Mashaei, whose daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s oldest son, implied that Baghaei was sentenced by British order and the Iranian judiciary dominated by London.
Referring to the incident, Ahmadinejad told his audience, “Had Mr. Mashaei not burned the verdict, I would have done it,” adding, “You [judiciary] detain innocent people and, disregarding all citizens’ rights, sentence them to five month—punishing them further behind bars.”
Ironically, during eight years of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the judiciary was repeatedly accused of suppressing the opposition and dissident groups, through imprisonment and even death in custody.