Iranian dissident journalist Moradi ‘abducted’ in Turkey

The killing of Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in 2019 ‘was clearly a hostile act that was met with a response.’ (Reuters)
The killing of Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in 2019 ‘was clearly a hostile act that was met with a response.’ (Reuters)
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Updated 06 June 2022

Iranian dissident journalist Moradi ‘abducted’ in Turkey

The killing of Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in 2019 ‘was clearly a hostile act that was met with a response.’ (Reuters)
  • News of his disappearance may complicate Iranian FM’s visit to Ankara

ANKARA: The disappearance of Mohammed Bagher Moradi, an Iranian dissident journalist who took shelter in Turkey nine years ago, has fueled concerns that he is another victim of Iranian intelligence and abduction operations that have been active in the region.

Moradi, who sought asylum in Turkey after fleeing Iran during a trial over his critical news coverage, disappeared on May 30. His father believes his son was abducted by Iranian operatives since he had been followed by Iranian intelligence for a while in capital Ankara. His family filed a criminal complaint with the local Turkish prosecutor’s office.
In 2013, Moradi, a member of Saraye Ahl-e Ghalam (Writer’s Association), was given a five-year prison sentence term on the charge of “illegal gathering and collusion against national security.”
For Iranian dissidents, Turkey has become a safe haven or a transit point to reach European countries if their legal status remains unclear.
The reciprocal visa-free travel regime between Iran and Turkey provides Iranians with the chance to stay and move freely for up to 90 days in Turkey.




Mohammed Bagher Moradi. (Supplied photo)


However, this has not gone unnoticed by Iranian intelligence operatives who established espionage networks in the country to kidnap or assassinate dissidents despite the bilateral commitments between the two countries to cooperate against human trafficking and terrorism.
Oubai Shahbandar, a defense and security analyst, thinks it’s clear that Iranian intelligence operatives are still carrying out terror and kidnap operations that target Turkey.
“The assassination of (the dissident) Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in the middle of a busy street in Istanbul in 2019 was clearly a hostile act that was met with a response. That the Iranians are still carrying out brazen attacks shows how little Tehran cares for international norms and respect for sovereignty,” he told Arab News.
Turkish authorities arrested several suspects over their links to Vardanjani, who was a former intelligence operative for Iran. This included a staff member of the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul named Mohammed Reza Naserzade, who was held in February 2021, but Tehran denied any involvement with the murder.
Before he was shot dead in Istanbul, the Iranian dissident began sharing bombshell social media posts on the corruption of Iranian officials.
Last year, a high-ranking pilot from the Iranian army who took shelter in Turkey in 2018 filed a complaint with Turkish authorities claiming that some people tried to abduct him and his spouse several times in a bid to deliver him to Iranian intelligence. Eight people were arrested in September 2021 in connection with the incident.
Earlier this year, Turkish intelligence thwarted another plot by Iranian operatives to kill an Israeli-Turkish businessperson on Iran’s orders.
Yair Geller, a 75-year-old Istanbul-based tycoon who invested in machine and defense industries in Turkey, was targeted by a nine-person network that was gathered by Iran’s intelligence agency in response to the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in what Tehran claimed was an Israeli operation.
The attempt was foiled following a month-long surveillance operation by the Turkish intelligence agency.
Jason Brodsky, policy director of the group United Against a Nuclear Iran, told Arab News that the case of Moradi is just one more example of Iran’s long history of using Turkey as a launch pad to target Iranian dissidents.
However, he doesn’t think the operation itself was primarily motivated by Turkey’s warming relations with Israel.
“It is more that Iran has found a permissive environment in Turkey to operate, not to mention the geographic advantages for its security forces in being able to quickly smuggle their targets into Iranian territory,” Brodsky said.
Last week, Israel’s National Security Council issued a travel warning for Turkey, claiming there was a concrete threat to Israelis by “Iranian terrorist operatives” there and in nearby countries.
According to Brodsky, Israel’s recent travel warning for Israelis in Turkey is one more example of how infiltrated Turkey is with Iranian intelligence.
“These revelations come ahead of the Iranian foreign minister’s visit to Turkey on Monday — his first since taking office. Despite Iran’s reach inside Turkey, there are still irritants in the bilateral relationship over water, Iran-backed militias’ targeting of Turkish forces in Iraq and other issues. The news about the Moradi case will add yet another complication during the Iranian foreign minister’s visit,” he added.
In February, 16 suspects belonging to a network were arrested over their ties to Iranian intelligence in bringing back Iranian dissidents back to their homeland. The network was discovered following a detailed investigation by Turkish intelligence. They were accused of political and military espionage, as well as of abduction.
In its previous operations in Turkey, the network smuggled another Iranian dissident, former Col. Mashali Firouze, back to Iran, while its attempts to abduct former naval officer Mohammed Rezaei and economist Shahnam Golshani were botched.
Regarding the timing of the Iranian operatives’ abduction attempts in Turkey, Shahbandar said it is definitely not random.
“It is a sign of Iran’s desperation as the economy collapses and protests spread further across the country,” he said.


UK-Egypt Association Council inaugurated in London

UK-Egypt Association Council inaugurated in London
The two sides issued a joint statement following the launch. (Shutterstock)
Updated 5 sec ago

UK-Egypt Association Council inaugurated in London

UK-Egypt Association Council inaugurated in London
  • Foreign ministers discuss areas of cooperation, including investment and addressing climate change

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, and the UK’s minister of foreign and commonwealth affairs and development, Liz Truss, inaugurated the UK-Egypt Association Council in London.

The two sides issued a joint statement following the launch, stressing it created a new platform to promote the ambitions expressed in the agreement between the UK and Egypt, signed in December 2020.

The statement revealed that the two ministers held talks on developing the strategic partnership between their countries, and welcomed a number of commercial successes between them, including the project to manufacture monorail linear trains in the English city of Derby with the support of the British Export Finance Corp.

This comes in addition to the sale of two marine supply units that belonged to the Royal Navy to Egypt, including contracts for renewal and development.

The statement added that the cooperation included the opening of a new solar energy field with a capacity of 66 megawatts by Globeleq, with an investment of $80 million; the launch of commercial operations by Lekela Wind Energy, with an investment of $325 million; and the approval of an investment of $100 million by British International Investment to acquire Alpha Medical Group.

The two ministers also discussed prospects for enhancing economic cooperation between the UK and Egypt, and agreed to work intensively to develop bilateral trade and investment, including addressing any obstacles to trade, and working to improve market access in the agricultural, healthcare, energy and financial sectors through the establishment of a trade subcommittee. 

The Egyptian and UK governments also affirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral cooperation and investments in healthcare and education, and welcomed the deepening of their technical cooperation, which will support joint work to overcome barriers to market access in priority sectors.

Future cooperation includes the signing of a declaration of intent between the Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency and the British Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, to help reform Egyptian legislation on renewable energy.

The two ministers welcomed the strengthening of cooperation in Africa and the discovery of tripartite cooperation opportunities with African countries in various fields, especially infrastructure.

The UK welcomed Egypt’s preparations to host COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in November, stressing its desire to build on the Glasgow Climate Charter and previous UN climate change goals. 

Egypt and the UK both stressed the importance of supporting developing peoples in achieving a fair transition towards sustainable development patterns that are environmentally friendly and compatible with efforts to combat climate change, including the transition towards sustainable energy and green hydrogen, in addition to adapting to the effects of climate change, through the sustainable and integrated management of natural resources, enhancing resilience and building technical and technological capacities.

The two ministers also discussed a large number of bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest, including human rights, mentioning their desire to hold meetings of the Association Council regularly to continue strengthening cooperation between London and Cairo.

The UK commended Egypt for its leadership and efforts in the field of renewable energy generation and for providing opportunities for British investors and companies in the energy sector.


Egyptian, Cypriot presidents hold talks

Egyptian, Cypriot presidents hold talks
Updated 06 July 2022

Egyptian, Cypriot presidents hold talks

Egyptian, Cypriot presidents hold talks

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received a phone call from his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades to discuss regional issues of common interest and ways to enhance bilateral relations.

El-Sisi affirmed Egypt’s “pride” in the “distinguished cooperation” with Cyprus, “and the positive development it is witnessing.”

He stressed Egypt’s aspiration to promote various aspects of that cooperation — especially in the security, military, energy and economic levels — in a way that contributes to achieving the interests of the two friendly peoples.

They also discussed ways of coordinating efforts with Egypt as a leading partner of the EU in terms of combating terrorism, extremist ideology and illegal immigration.


El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE
Updated 06 July 2022

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi expressed Cairo’s aspirations to enhance cooperation with the UAE, citing plans for increased investments in information technology, energy and communications.

El-Sisi’s statement came after he received the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Al-Jaber in the presence of a number of officials from the two countries.

A spokesman for the Egyptian presidency said the meeting covered several areas for raising investments between Egypt and the UAE.

The Egyptian presidential spokesman said that El-Sisi conveyed his greetings to the President of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, welcoming the increase in Emirati investments in Egypt to consolidate the strong brotherly relations between the two countries.

Al-Jaber conveyed to El-Sisi the greetings of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, praising the attractive investment and commercial climate in Egypt in light of the comprehensive development process the country is witnessing under the leadership of El-Sisi, which he said provides various opportunities for Emirati and foreign investments in the region.

The Emirati minister added that the UAE is keen to strengthen strategic cooperation frameworks between the two countries.


Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties
Updated 06 July 2022

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties
  • Army would not participate in internationally led dialogue efforts to break its stalemate with the civilian opposition

CAIRO: Sudan’s military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decree relieving the five civilian members of the sovereign council from their duties, a statement on the council’s telegram account said on Wednesday.
Burhan said on Monday the army would not participate in internationally led dialogue efforts to break its stalemate with the civilian opposition, and urged political and revolutionary groups to start talks to form a transitional government.


Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank
Updated 06 July 2022

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank
  • At least 50 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian man was killed by the Israeli military during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Rafiq Riyad Ghannem, 20, was “shot by the occupation (Israeli army)” near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the ministry said in a statement, adding that he was killed in the town of Jaba.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Sunday, a 17-year-old Palestinian died after being shot a day earlier in another Israeli army raid in the same town.
At least 50 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank, among them suspected militants and non-combatants.
Israeli security forces have launched near-daily raids in the West Bank following a spate of attacks in Israel in recent months.
Nineteen people — mostly Israeli civilians inside Israel — have been killed mainly in attacks carried out by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Three Arab Israeli attackers have also been killed.