On May 19, 2010, Omid Habibinia, a self-described media analyst who played a key role in publicizing the Taraneh Mousavi story, denounced it for the hoax that it is. My first introduction to this event was a comment posted by one Mina dated June 14, 2010 on my article decrying Amnesty
International’s embrace of the hoax. She said, “Recently Habibinia changed his mind and promised to write the truth.” Of course, the clear implication is that Habibinia had before this time been consciously lying about this story. The post contained a link to the first article translated here, “Taraneh Mousavi has No Existence in Reality,” published May 19, 2010 on a website initiated by Habibinia call Azadi-e Bayan/Iran’s Freedom of Expression.
This article features an interview with an alleged investigator of the Taraneh Mousavi story living in Iran. This story is problematic from a number of perspectives. No background is provided on the interviewer. Moreover, it is hard to understand why this interviewer would not have communicated his doubts about the story as they arose, rather than waiting for over a year.
Moreover, the “interviewee” says more than Habibinia seems to realize. For instance, he openly says that it was clear that the story was baseless from the start and that the story should never have been believed.
A second article published August 26, 2010, later presents a history of the hoax and the rise of Habibinia’s doubts about it which would seem to be irreconcilable with the first one. In this second story, Habibinia heard at the tragic fate of Taraneh Mousavi from Leyla Malekmohammadi and Reza Valizadeh, sources inside Iran, and earnestly tried to find reliable sources for it, all in vain. In other words, in this story, unlike the previous one, Habibinia portrays himself as doing due diligence as a journalist. The doubts are his doubts, as he relates in the first paragraph, and not a revelation from outside.
Habibinia poses as a victim of Malekmohammadi’s manipulations and lies. Indeed, he said that he had “serious doubts” about the story when Malekmohammadi was still in Iran, a mere four months into the story and the better part of a year before he decided to walk away from it. According to this version, even after it was becoming clear to him that they were using him, he still tried to connect his two sources with the BBC, Voice of America, and other sources with which he was well-connected. Even after they left Iran, he allowed this hoax to be perpetrated until the two rumor-mongers could find asylum. Presumably he would have allowed this hoax to have been propagated indefinitely otherwise. This tying of the story to the fate of these refugees is particularly hard to sustain given these two do not appear in Habibinia’s first explanation of what he was abandoning the story.
The Twitter record left by Habibinia on the story is revealing. His first twitter was July 14, 2009 and the twitter confirming her “murder” appeared two days later.
But his complicity in promoting this hoax, which he tries to cover up, particularly in the second version of events, is revealed in a tweet dated July 16, in which says that he had been responsible for an “interview” with a so-called friend of Taraneh. This interview receives no mention in either of his versions of the events and, indeed, its existence is implicitly denied in his first version, where his “interviewee” writes, “Can it be that for this entire year, no sign of her family, her friends, or her acquaintances has been found?” Even if we suppose that this is a genuine interviewee and not a sock puppet, one would imagine the interviewer would have objected that there had indeed been contact with at least one of Taraneh’s friends.
On August 14, a full month after Habibinia “broke” the story, he posted an article on France, for which he worked, saying that “Shahrzad, 26, is a photographer” had tried to call Taraneh, whom he’d lost in a tumultuous demonstration but who did not answer her mobile. The next day, he heard that she had been arrested there. There are a number of problems with this report. To start with, this would be a second “friend” of Taraneh’s, whose existence Habibinia would later deny. Moreover, this “friend” describes the 7 Tir demonstration at which Taraneh was arrested as “reformists … celebrating the anniversary of Hafte Tir,” the anniversary of the bombing of the Islamic Republican Party’s headquarters, apparently by the People’s Mojahedin, “which caused the police to attack us.” Of course, what was really going on was a meeting featuring Ali-Reza Beheshti, the son of the IRP’s founder, marking the anniversary of his father’s death in that explosion. It is hard to imagine how anyone following events in Iran making such a gross error, let alone an eye-witness.
But eventually, Habibinia’s interest in the topic flagged. On August 30, two weeks after his previous tweet on the subject, he gave one last tweet to defend the story (promoting an article on the subject posted on Iranian Leftists) and then moved on, although Habibinia’s comrade bloggers, particularly Malekmohammadi’s Zirzamin, continued posting lugubrious articles on Taraneh. It is hard to imagine that this was the result of “severe doubts”. The story had taken on a life of its own, sprouting like kudzu all over the blogosphere, chiefly among credulous Iranians and Western Islamophobes.
The Western press gave the Taraneh Mousavi story wide berth. It maintained a lively existence in the Iranian blogosphere and is widely believed by Iranians, but the better Iranian blogs studiously ignored it. This is not sufficient for someone with greater ambitions than spending his career in an Iranian ghetto. We conclude that Habibinia walked away from this hoax he launched when it became clear that it was not gaining traction in the international community and was even becoming an embarrassment. Alternately, he had had a political falling out with, say, his two Iranian comrades in rumor-mongering and decided to hang the story around them to discredit them, or simply that these two were simply spinning the story out of control until it collapsed due to the pile of irreconcilable lies being piled on top of it..
We now turn to the manifesto written by the two sources of the story who continue to promulgate it.
Layla Malekmohammadi (web page in Persian) and Reza Valizadeh declare bluntly that they have no intention of answering any of the questions raised by Habibinia. They “refuse to be players in a dangerous game which some who have personal political and ideological interests have set up.” They “shall not fall into the swamp of sensationalism [!] or be present in the dubious games of others, even as spectators.” They repeatedly declare that those who doubt the story have unspecified hidden personal motivations for denying the story and that these doubters “stand in the same ranks as Taranehs’ rapists” and “directly take their stand with the interrogators and security officials of the Islamic Republic to arrest and bring further pressure on the witnesses of this incident with their posturing of professionalism in a dubious and demagogic game with lying claims of enlightenment.” Again, at the end of their manifesto, they say that those who deny the hoax benefit from the support of the Iranian government, insinuating that Habibinia has sold out to the ruling regime, although there is not a scintilla of evidence for this. Moreover, those who perpetuate this hoax also benefit from powerful political forces and are sustained by an Iranian community which is ready to believe the worst about the Iranian government.
The one brand-new detail the authors add to the actual story of Taraneh Mousavi is that the famous picture they had of Taraneh was obtained from a computer of hers to which they, in an unclear fashion, obtained access after her disappearance. It is extremely odd that such a privacy-conscious family would allow a stranger to examine their missing daughter’s computer. Moreover, it is standard operating procedure for the regime to raid the home of arrestees and seize such items as computers. Finally, Azar, a writer for Leftist Iranians, answered skeptics who had complained that all they had to go on to verify Taraneh Mousavi’s existence was a single picture that she had access to many more pictures which she would reveal when she deemed fit. This offer is irreconcilable with the two authors’ claim.
The two authors promise that friends and family of Taraneh would come forward and break their silence. They forget that two such “friends” were supposed to have already done just that, as we have mentioned. Their apparent ignorance of these “friends’” existence is further evidence that Habibinia was consciously participating in the hoax. Moreover, it is hard to imagine why these “friends” would find the current political atmosphere, in which the regime is tightening its grip over society, having driven the opposition off the streets, more congenial for speaking out than a year ago, when the Green Movement was at the height of its powers.
The two authors believe that the Committee to Investigate the Condition of the Victims of the Post-Electoral Events had launched its own investigation into the Taraneh Mousavi case and confirmed this story on its own. More is the pity that it has not seen fit to publish its results after a full year.
The one blow the authors of this manifesto landed on Habibinia is their answer to his insinuation that they had concocted this story in order to get political asylum. They convincingly pointed out that they had a strong enough case to get asylum, and certainly a much stronger case than that of many Iranian refugees.
Reza Valizadeh and Leila Malekmohammadi’s story ended on a note which made clear their general intellectual dishonesty. They invited those who object to their story to produce the living Taraneh Mousavi. But, of course, Habibinai’s whole point is that she never existed in the first place. They call on them to produce documents to prove their case. But, of course, one cannot prove a negative. It is precisely the perpetrators of this hoax who refuse to provide documentation.
These two authors go so far as to say, “If only Taraneh Mousavi did not have an existence in reality and the world was not a scene of such horror. Then we, too, would be fine and our minds at rest and we would smilingly close our eyes to this night of murder.” This is a direct affront to Iranians who suffered at the hands of the Iranian regime. Simply put, the authors are saying that if the Taraneh Mousavi story proves false, they could be at peace with the current situation in Iran.
Appendix: Full Translations of the Two Articles by Habibinia and a Partial Summary of the Article by MalekMohammadi and Valizadeh
Taraneh Mousavi Has No Existence in Reality
Azadiye Bayan: For nearly a year after the publication of conflicting rumors and report about the arrest, rape, and, finally, murder of Taraneh Mousavi, an informed source now says that this story was false and forged from the start.
Azadiye Bayan dropping the full names and relevant information about some of the people involved in this affair or who claimed to have information about its details, produces the publishable part of an interview with an informed source done in Tehran about this matter.
AB: When did you learn of the Taraneh Mousavi Affair?
I heard of it from some of my colleagues, but no matter how much I tried to follow this affair, I got nowhere in particular and so I saw only two alternative explanations for its being spread: Personal advantage or the intervention of the intelligence establishment.
AB: What did you do to follow it?
I pursued it from several directions and tried to find traces of someone, [her] family, her friends, her coworkers, or even residents of the village in which it was claimed that she had been buried using all the information existing on the blogs Iranian-e Chap, Cherik Online, and Zirzamin, but I obtained no evidence that such an individual ever existed in reality.2
AB: Say something about your efforts.
I contacted sources which these three blogs introduced. There was no sign of Taraneh Mousavi’s house, no one by the name of Mousavi lived in the house which one of these sources had claimed was her former house. It was like an Indian film. It kept changing and became more and more painful until every line of pursuit led to a dead end. For instance, in a late stage of these blogs, there was mention of how the family moved from its residence to the north and that later, Taraneh’s father passed away.
Aside from the fact that not a single person was found who said he or she was Taraneh Mousavi’s friend, the girl in the picture and the murder victim in this story, but the person who claimed to have witnessed the affair kept contracting himself and, indeed, he was at work on the day he claimed to have witnessed it, i.e., 7 Tir.3
At a later stage, I inquired in all the schools for beauty, sewing, cooking, etc. and not a single one of their owners confirmed the existence of such an individual. Interestingly, one of the blog sources said that this picture had been taken from the owner of a beauty school near the Hoseiniyeh Ershad and another claimed that it had been “lifted” from her home!
Mehdi Karoubi was deceived by these same sources, while if there was any other evidence of her existence available, either he or Alviri would have presented it. I suspect that after the Saideh Pouraqayi affair, it was hard for Karoubi to admit that he had been fooled yet again.4
AB: But then in your opinion, Karoubi stood by this affair even though he knew that it was a lie?
I do not know what evidence Karoubi has, but while this affair even reached the American Senate,5 and the international media,6 wasn’t there a single person to be found to say that Taraneh Mousavi is her friend, her niece, her neighbor, her classmate, etc.? And then there are the personal interests of those who made various claims in this regard. Karoubi does not have an intelligence service to be aware of the truth or falsehood of everything, while there are hundreds of cases of rape, sexual harassment, and torture in the prisons which Karoubi and his comrades are investigating and had real evidence and witnesses for. A few lying cases used in asylum cases are lost in the shuffle7 and, naturally, the fact that there exists rape, kidnapping, or even murder by the security forces, the Basij, or the police results in these cases, too, being mixed in among the true cases!8
AB: So how is it that the regime has not pressured Karoubi to expose the original sources of the Taraneh Mousavi story?
I have no information about this, but there could be two reasons for it.9 One is the abundance of true complaints and cases of rape and torture in the detention centers. The other is the possibility for taking advantage of the spread of these rumors to strike still greater fear and terror in the hearts of the people, especially women and young girls.10
AB: But the Islamic Republic’s Voice and Visage made that stupid program to deny this affair, which in itself resulted in strengthening the sense that it was true.
This report was one of the strange events for which I have yet to find an explanation. For example, in the case of Saideh Pouraqayi, while it resorted to those same falsifications,11 it was not as ridiculous as the report concerning the Taraneh Mousavi affair, which, moreover, it had left a visible trace in, i.e., using people from a family which was close to Taeb and whom Mehdi Karoubi knew.
AB: Finally, Jaras reported that Taeb, the former commander of the Basij, had probably raped Taraneh Mousavi.
The commander of the Basij has apparently raped everyone: Taraneh Mousavi, Bahareh Maqami, etc.! Although there is no doubt that these two have an existence in reality, there is no sign of Taraneh Mousavi. Bahareh Maqami, who says that she has taken asylum in Berlin, has emailed from Arizona in the United States, which is where Jaras is based, and no further sign of her has appeared and her blog, too, has suddenly been hacked by the Cyber Army.
AB: What other evidence do you have that the Taraneh Mousavi affair is false?
In addition to reasons which cannot be raised, a very intricate story has been created and spread throughout the world, but what is the evidence for it? Only one picture! Can it be that for this entire year, no sign of her family, her friends, or her acquaintances has been found? Is there any other blog but these three (Cherik-e Online, Zirzamin, and Iranian-e Chap), two of which are in fact one, to be found which claims that it has seen Taraneh Mousavi in that basement, or that it knows her at all?12
Has any evidence or reason been presented except for scattered words by people who have no evidence at hand?13
Aside from all this, when we look at the story, we see so many contradictions and falsehoods that it is nearly impossible for it to be true.14
Yet, the reality of rape, kidnapping of women and girls in demonstrations, and even murders after their rapes by the military and security forces is completely likely and has occurred repeatedly, but in this particular case, it must be said that Taraneh Mousavi has no existence in reality and that this story is false from the start.
The Truth about how the Pseudo-story about Taraneh Mousavi Was Published
Finally, after nearly a hear of silence, I can now write about my serious doubts about the Taraneh Mousavi story and explain why I was silent [about it] for a year.
Last year, many reporters and human rights activists gathering news, videos, and pictures of demonstrations and sending them to various media outlets, including France 24, for which I was working, were in touch with me. On 21 Tir [July 12], one of these reporters, whom I will cal L M, informed me that a girl named Taraneh Mousavi had disappeared and it was feared that she had been gang-raped.
LM said that her source had, as it happened, been arrested as he was leaving the Qoba Mosque along with Taraneh Mousavi and was in a detention center.
Two days later, she sent me a picture of Taraneh Mousavi and more details, including her telephone number.
In the meantime, a group of leftist friends, most of whom were inside the country, set up a blog called Iranian-e Chap (Leftist Iranians). I asked one of them, whose pen-name was Azar, to call the phone number which had been sent me.
The next day, Azar reported that this telephone number did not exist in the network or was temporarily out of service. But she published in this blog the same story which I had sent her.
And so, for the first time, the Iranian-e Chap blog reported the alleged rape of Taraneh Mousavi. This was word for word the same report, apart from some changes, which had been published hours before by the blog Zeerzamin, which belonged to L. M., but since no one knew about this blog, the news was published as having come from Iranian-e Chap, and I posted it on Facebook and Twitter and placed a link about it on Balatarin. As a result, I was considered the only actual person who was the source of this story.
Since I trusted L. M., I imagined that this story might be true and so I spoke with her for hours about the details of the matter.
The next day, another blog called Cherik Online published other details about Taraneh Mousavi’s alleged death. This blog belonged to R. V., whom L.M. described as her cultural correspondent and an employee of Voice and Visage.
Several days later, L. M. reported that Taraneh Mousavi had been killed and her body had been burned. No other news source existed to confirm the truth of this event. The two sources who anonymously published the two blogs plus Iranian-e Chap were the only sources spreading this story. Ultimately, the story had been given me by L. M. and I sent it to Azar, who was following it, and she published it and this was later copied, with some changes in detail, in the two other blogs. [sic]
Just then, I asked L. M. for further information, including the address and telephone number of Taraneh Mousavi’s home. She claimed that R. V. had lifted a picture of Taraneh Mousavi from there, but just then, she reported that Taraneh Mousavi’s family had gone to the north and her father had passed away.
After I insisted, L. M. announced that a neighborhood near Azadi Street was where Taraneh Mousavi lived. I immediately reported this to Azar and she went there and asked the local people for the Mousavi family. She reported that no one knew of such a family.
At this time, I was referred to as the one who was defending this rumor in Balatarin and other websites. Things reaching the point where all the links referring to Taraneh Mousavi were removed, since Balatarin’s editor believed that this story was a fraud.
Two weeks later, after my efforts to find a trace of Taraneh Mousavi had come up with nothing, friends in Tehran, one after the other, announced that there was neither mention of her in the schools nor had anyone else seen her in that detention center.
At that point, I raised my doubts with L. M. She said that she had gone directly to the Karoubi’s investigatory committee and placed evidence connected with this matter at its disposal. I asked her to tell me the name of the person who had been arrested along with Taraneh Mousavi and she gave me the name. When I spoke to her some time later, I noted that she kept contradicting herself and was openly disinclined to speaking about that day. But the gravest doubt with which I was faced arose when two different sources investigated the individual in question and it was determined that he was at work on 7 Tir and that at the time when L. M. said he was in detention, he was busily at work.
I now had serious doubts about this story’s veracity. Above all, I had no sign of her family, friends, or relatives. One day, L. M. phoned me and said that it was over, and that she had to flee the country with R. V.
Naturally, I did whatever I could do for them, connecting them with Reporters without Borders and other friends in that country to find work for them.
I asked L. M. if she could publish more news abroad concerning this matter.15 One could do this easily abroad, but she kept saying that she was maintaining her silence because of this one individual.
But one day, she said that this individual had been arrested and she now wanted to speak out, and I connected her and R. V. with the BBC and Voice of America and said that I could get this covered the next day on France 24, since I now finally had two people who could follow this affair from close up and be considered news sources.
But there was no news of these two journalists several days hence. They then told me that since the individual in question had been freed, it was best that they maintain their silence for now, since the Ministry of Intelligence now knows who the source of the Taraneh Mousavi story is.
I had no choice but to write on Facebook and on Twitter that the witnesses to the affair would speak out and was silent once more.
But when I spoke with one of the colleagues of that individual some weeks later, he assured me that the latter was at work those days when it was claimed that he was under arrest. I told this to two others and checked. Everyone strongly confirmed that the rumor of this individual’s arrest was false.
As a result, I became certain that this news was false from the start, but I still kept my silence until these two reporters had left Iran and had been transferred to a third country.
Just then, one of my friends reported that R. V. spoke about false news in a public meeting in this new country and used the example of Taraneh Mousavi as a case in which its being false was obvious!!!
I asked L. M. about this. She said that this had doubtless been said out of expedience. I told her that the individual whose presence in Tehran she had always used as a reason for her silence while she was out of the country had never been arrested, neither on 7 Tir nor lately, i.e., around Dey of the previous year. She said that she would publish the documents on a blog which she was publishing under her real name on cultural matters.
Several weeks passed. I asked her why she was still maintaining her silence.
She gave no answer whatsoever. It was then that I decided that since the necessary conditions existed for these two sources’ security and credibility not to be compromised, I would go public with this matter.
Unfortunately, this came at a time when [Behzad] Nabavi’s lies against me and my crushing response caused my former Facebook account to be blocked.
But in any case, I promised that I would write about this matter. Since L. M. and R. V. had hidden behind blogs, many considered me to be the source of the Taraneh Mousavi story, since it was I who had published this story on every side and, despite some notes and criticisms and even deletions of links on Balatarin, as a result of its being repeated and its having all the qualities of a melodrama, everyone got used to it and believed it.
As a journalist who published this story for this first time based on the word of these two sources, I am duty-bound to announce that I erred in hastily publishing this news without sufficient details and being deceived by the information of my sources. But I went to great lengths to find the truth and it has been months that I have had serious doubts about the existence of Taraneh Mousavi, but I waited until these two journalists had been transferred to another country so that they would not meet with any difficulties. Now that I can speak out with an easy conscience about the details of this affair, I still ask these two individuals to emerge from behind the veil and reveal their documents and take responsibility for the report which was accompanied by so much doubt.
Declaration of the First Publishers of the News of Taraneh Mousavi’s Martyrdom concerning the Truth of This Event
Reza Valizadeh, Leila Malekmohammadi
We, Leila Malekmohammadi and Reza Valizadeh, are today compelled to address all of you, you who have been wounded and who wound, who have entered the field and given your all to disgrace our enemy’s oppressors, and entered the field, or who have chosen to stand aside and forget or have lent hand and voice to the foe’s benefit and have become a scourge to the people. For it is a very rare event which led to a declaration addressed to such a mixed and divided population. But which of you is it who has not heard the name Taraneh Mousavi and has not wished to investigate the puzzle of her story? This is what we have in common. This statement is addressed to all of you who either want to listen to this story or have suffered its horrifying pain or had sincere doubts about its reality or called it a fake and a fraud upon orders.
We, the authors of this letter, officially declare for the first time that the news of Taraneh Mousavi’s arrest and alleged rape and the discovery of her body—someone who was arrested on 7 Tir 1388 and interrogated in an unofficial detention center with a number of cellmates, suffered grievous physical harm and, according to her family, was burned—was published on our blogs. We, who have been active for years under various titles in Iran’s news stations and newspapers, were aware of our grave duty and responsibly published a report confirmed by various sources and pursued witnesses and evidence of its details. After 14 months, we are still firmly of the opinion and have not the slightest doubt about the reality of this crime, for during the days when Taraneh’s fate was shrouded in ambiguity and after her body was discovered, we were the closest representatives of public opinion to Taraneh’s family and were aware of its anxiety and suffering when, after several days of having no news of Taraneh, it learned that the family had received a dubious phone call.
[The authors continue, saying that they have worked in the field of journalism for years, but do not say for what publications or in what capacity. They do not indicate, for instance, that they were actually reporters and not, say, proofreaders or engaged in production.]
Malekmohammadi was the proprietor of Zeerzamin and Valizadeh wrote Cherik Online. They continued that they cannot reveal their sources because they are still in Iran.
They are “prepared to accept the professional criticism of fair critics and the wounds of unfair critics” but “refuse to be players in a dangerous game which some who have personal political and ideological interests have set up.”
[Those who do not accept the story either 1) do not understand the security atmosphere in Iran which forces reporters to hide their sources or 2) are influenced by theories of journalism common in journalism school or 3) are behind the line opportunists.] “They can, while making themselves out to be heroes of journalism, make themselves out to be heroes of denial when necessary. This group always follows its own political, party, or personal motivations and, in attaining its interests, will do whatever it can to be the focus of discussion and invent lies and distort the truth in order to win at pointless personal or political struggles and so stand in the same ranks as Taranehs’ rapists. Aside from the efforts of the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic and the security institutions and government media in spreading lies to deny this event, there are those who directly take their stand with the interrogators and security officials of the Islamic Republic to arrest and bring further pressure on the witnesses of this incident with their gestures of professionalism in a dubious and demagogic game with lying claims of enlightenment.”
“The story of Taraneh Mousavi’s arrest and disappearance was related to us for the first time directly by one of her cell-mates, and it was confirmed by another witness. After that, to be certain of the story’s veracity, we contacted Taraneh Mousavi’s family. The story of her ill father and aged mother will certainly be told someday. Taraneh’s computer was full of pictures which she had taken after the elections of electoral meetings and protest marches. Her family would not turn over any of the pictures, despite our insistence except for a picture from which we all know her. Our initial reason for publishing the picture, which was agreed to by her family, was that perhaps someone would find some trace of her if it were published. In those days, neither media activists nor human rights activists nor intellectual or political leaders recognized the depth of the catastrophe which was occurring in the most horrifying prisons, named and unnamed, and none of us imagined such things. Publishing Taraneh Mousavi’s picture led to obtaining the most upsetting information. Part of this information was passed on to us by someone close to her family, information which was later published about her alleged rape and murder and the discovery and burial of her body. After this news attracted public opinion and was very effectively republished, our contact with Taraneh Mousavi’s family was cut. Of her family’s three members, only her aged mother remained, for her father died two weeks after her murder. Our telephone contacts with someone close to the family gradually grew vaguer and tended towards hints and talking in riddles mixed with terror until they were completely cut from that side. But we more or less maintained other means of contact. No matter how much we tried to get her family to appeal for justice, we failed, for obvious reasons. We now see families which have opened their mouths after a year and speaking out about the fate which befell them and their loved ones. We think that it is not unlikely that Taraneh’s friends will speak out in the future. Under such difficult conditions, we did our best and clung to every resource to have Taraneh’s screams heard. In the meantime, we deposited a collection of news documents in the presence of one of the eye witnesses of Taraneh’s arrest and several media activists—whose names will not be disclosed—with the Committee to Investigate the Condition of the Victims of the Post-Electoral Events. Since the most prominent protesters later confirmed the veracity of the Taraneh Mousavi affair, it would appear that the Committee did its own independent investigation over the affair and found other witnesses, too.
Nearly four months after the publication of this news, the members of this commission and the people with whom we were in direct contact were arrested. We described the affair to them and Mohsen Ezhei’s references in the television program were a danger sign and if, according to the Islamic Republic’s security and intelligence institutions, publishing reports about the post-electoral events is considered a crime, we added other crimes to this, such as distributing pictures, videos, and reports of the post-electoral demonstrations to the foreign media. We consider it important to repeat that we remained in Iran for four months after the publication of our report. We remained and worked to obtain more witnesses and evidence of the Taraneh affair. What addle-brain would imagine that something like the Taraneh tragedy would be concocted simply to obtain asylum. Is obtaining asylum for two reporters, one of whom was freed by the issuing of an order (?) and the other had sent dozens of reports, pictures, and films of the repression to the foreign media after the elections, such a difficult thing that they should create such a story? So far, thousands of people have escaped Iran and accepted asylum; must they each have had such a bloody story and pledge their entire character and honor to its confirmation or refutation?
It has now been ten months since we have left Iran. We have considered it our professional and human responsibility to pursue this painful affair and work to obtain more witnesses and documents in order to be able to turn the Taraneh Mousavi affair into a court case against the Islamic Republic’s repressive and criminal machine. Towards this end, we extend a hand to all people all over the world who are pledged to truth and freedom. We do not despair over the doubts cast on the veracity of this news and we ask those who have, for various reasons, tried to refute this story not to be satisfied with their own beliefs and stirring up their audience. Let them bring pictures, show the world that Taraneh Mousavi is alive and well, she whom the world considers the model of the Islamic Republic’s crimes against the protesters against the electoral results. Let them get their own witnesses to speak and present documents which confirm and convince. This task will be easier, since denying this news not only does not involve being threatened; indeed, there is a government full of resources which will place all its might at the disposal of the deniers. If it be confirmed that the Taraneh affair has no reality, the one year’s nightmare of ours and all those who wept blood in the name of Taraneh will have ended. We will be completely delighted to trade in our professional character and our very being to either find a trace of Taraneh Mousavi or confirm that the affair was made up. If only Taraneh Mousavi did not have an existence in reality and the world was not a scene of such horror. Then we, too, would be fine and our minds at rest and we would smilingly close our eyes to this night of murder. Investigating the Taraneh Mousavi affair is above all the responsibility of everyone who values truth. We, too, will maintain our independence in this regard, and shall investigate despite the numerous obstacles, but not to confirm it, but to find out how it occurred. But for all this, we shall not fall into the swamp of sensationalism or be present in the dubious games of others, even as spectators.
1This is a reference to the Tawana Brawley affair, in which a black teenager claimed to have been raped by six white men, including policemen, and smeared with filth and left in a garbage bag. The story was exposed as a hoax and the accused turned the tables on their accusers and prosecuted them successfully for libel. See the New York Times editorial, “The Endless Tawana Brawley Case”.
2 Here, the “informed source” is admitting that the three rumor mongering blogs gave no evidence of the existence of Taraneh Mousavi, i.e., that there was no reason for anyone to believe the story. This raises the obvious question of why Habibinia would take this rumor seriously if he was not in on the hoax himself.
3 This is entirely peculiar. How did this “informed source” discover the identity of this friend, who was underground?
4 This is entirely likely.
6 I.e., Facebook and the blogosphere. The print press has largely ignored the story.
7 This is the insinuation referred to in the letter of the two.
8 The true scope of the damage done by this case is ignored by this “informed source.” Green Movement rumor-mongering harms its integrity and is an insult to the real victims—as if their suffering is not sufficient and the movement needs to invent atrocities.
9 This is an entirely unlikely question to ask someone who has repeatedly declared that he has no insight into Karoubi’s inner workings. It is more along the lines of an internal monologue of the author of this “dialogue.
10 Here, the author of this dialogue is saying that the regime is using these atrocity stories to intimidate the opposition. But the two explanations he gives are mutually contradictory. If there is indeed a plethora of such real events—women being raped and murdered in captivity—this story would not be needed to terrorize protesters.
11 It did?
12 Again, this has been the case for an entire year. Did it really take an “informed source” to explain this to Habibinia?
13 Again, this should have been obvious from the start. It certainly did not require a year and enlightenment from an “informed source.” Assuming that this “informed source” existed in reality, Habibinia does not contradict him.
14 Again, this should have been obvious from the start. It certainly did not require a year and enlightenment from an “informed source.”
15 This is odd. L. M. was unable to provide him with any information, indeed, had provided false information to him repeatedly.