By Rohollah Faghihi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Did Rouhani stop screening of hardline film about jailed Iranian-American?
Ever since taking office, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has come under increasing pressure from hard-liners who have been trying to tie his administration to the “infiltration project of the enemy.” The code word “infiltration” has especially been used in relation to the arrests of dual nationals.
In what some have deemed as pushback against this pressure, the debut screening Oct. 25 at the University of Tehran of a film about jailed Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and the ecosystem of Iranian startups was canceled, causing outrage among hard-liners.
Dubai-based Namazi was arrested soon after arriving in Iran last year and was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison on the charge of “cooperation with the hostile government of America.” His father, Baquer Namazi, who was detained in February, was handed the same sentence.
According to the conservative Sobhe-No newspaper, the film — dubbed “Shabnaameh” (Secret Pamphlets) — narrates the story of “the activities of a Telegram channel … which disclosed an espionage network’s ‘infiltration’ of entrepreneurs.”
The Telegram channel, which is also called Shabnaameh and is run by those behind the film, has over the past year accused a series of journalists, political activists and entrepreneurs both inside and outside Iran of being part of an “infiltration plot.” It has also suggested imminent developments in court cases kept under close wraps, which have later materialized. This has led to speculation that Shabnaameh is linked to the security services responsible for the detention of Namazi and other dual nationals.
Mohammad Saeed Karbasi, director of the self-styled documentary, said Oct. 25, “Before making ‘Shabnaameh,’ we were involved in startup [activities] in which a series of summits were held, and we took part in them. Some of the people who attended these summits spoke about subjects that we sensed are notable.” Karbasi dismissed speculation that the security services are behind “Shabnaameh.”