November 04, 2016

Soon after Ali Jannati resigned his post as minister of culture and Islamic guidance, rumours about the cause of his sudden departure began to circulate.

The Friday prayer Imam of Jiroft in Kerman province told worshippers ,“The public would be completely demoralised if the truth behind the resignations and impeachments of government officials came to light.” He was referring to an alleged relationship between the culture minister and a female artist. The rumour mill has gone into overdrive in the past two weeks.

Amadnews is an investigative Telegram website channel that has been reporting on a number of high profile stories, including the case against a prominent Qoranic reciter, Saeed Tousi, who was recently accused of sexually molesting nineteen under-age adolescents. The website claims “some security units plan to assassinate Tousi and destroy any evidence of him ever sexually assaulting minors.”

The website reports “Jannati resigned after revelations from multiple sources regarding his relationship with a young female filmmaker.” It claims that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) intelligence branch had collected damning evidence on Jannati’s relationship with a woman named “Bahareh S.J.” Armed with the information, conservative opponents of President Hassan Rouhani confronted him and left him with no choice but to accept Jannati’s resignation.

Head of the IRGC’s intelligence, Hossein Taeb

Amadnews adds that “after failing to release her first film, for which she apparently did not have the necessary permit, Ms. Bahareh had found herself under a mountain of debt. She had again approached Jannati, who had previously fast-tracked her permit request and financed her project using funds from the treasury.”

According to Amadnews, Jannati misappropriated a film script, which had been submitted by a different filmmaker to his office for review and offered it to Ms. Bahareh simply by changing the title to “The minister and a Female MP.”  Jannati tried to cover up his actions after the actual author of the manuscript and his financial backer, a member of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament), discovered what had happened.

The website points out: “This action clearly violates the copyright law that Jannati’s office should enforce.”  Armed with evidence against Jannati, the conservative enemies of Rouhani consulted a number of influential individuals in Ayatollah Khamenei’s office who tried to put a lid on the story out of respect for the former culture minster’s father, Ahmad Jannati (a senior figure and one of the founders of the Islamic Revolution). Opponents of the government prevailed, ensuring that Jannati suffered the same fate as Attaollah Mohajerani, a former culture minister  who resigned from office for alleged transgressions in 2000.”

According to Amadnews, Jannati’s indiscretions were not confined to his relationship with Ms. Bahareh. The website claims that he had also been involved with a female journalist, Ms. “A. Ch.” Amadnews is quick to point out: “These are the actions of a minister who criticized Mani Haqiqi’s 2016 film, 50 kilos of Cherries, for corrupting public moral and threatening traditional family values.”

 Amadnews describes itself as “an uncompromising news site dedicated to the discovery of the truth and exposing political corruption.” The website warns “government officials must uphold the integrity of the public office they occupy and serve the public to the best of their abilities and ethics. They should be cognisant that the press and media are one of the pillars of democracy.”

According to Kayhan-London, the head of the IRGC’s intelligence, Hossein Taeb, and his brother Mehdi, have more power and influence than the Ministry of Intelligence. The rivalry between various factions of the regime occasionally leads to deliberate disclosure of secret materials on certain powerful individuals.

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