BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A frequent contributor for The New York Times was revealed to be an Iranian spy and was charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Federal prosecutors reported that this Iranian-born political science author arrested Monday was paid in secret to write columns favorable to Tehran and lobby at least one American lawmaker on the global power’s behalf, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
A criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn charged Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, 63, with acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). If convicted of both offenses, Afrasiabi faces the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Afrasiabi is accused of espousing propaganda to advance Iranian viewpoints while employed by the Iranian mission to the United Nations. His writings appeared in prominent publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and HuffPost, aligning with Tehran’s position on world affairs, The Post Millennial reported.
According to the indictment, Afrasiabi’s work was often written in consultation with Iranian diplomatic staff. The prosecution asserted that Afrasiabi also helped craft an April 2015 column in The New York Times written by Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif.
Afrasiabi authored about half a dozen op-eds for The New York Times, investigative journalist Jordan Schachtel reported. His latest piece, published September 2018, argued for an Iran-US summit.
No other disclosures were mentioned in the piece besides his America-based academic associations. Other columns of his pushed for Iran to be nuclear-armed.
This is the last thing he wrote for them. NYT describes him as a “political scientist and expert on Iran’s foreign affairs.” No other disclosures besides his U.S.-based academic associations. pic.twitter.com/fTNlImCg8h
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) January 19, 2021
Afrasiabi was arrested Monday at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts. He made his initial appearance Tuesday morning in federal court in Boston before US magistrate judge Jennifer Boal, PM reported.
“No one is surprised — the NYT is a cesspool of propaganda for the terrorist regime in Iran,” remarked political commentator Arthur Schwartz.
Afrasiabi also appeared on English-language television programs to discuss foreign affairs and promote the Iranian government’s views on world events, particularly Iran’s relations with the United States. His on-screen personality portrayed him as an independent scholar and expert on Iranian affairs.
Afrasiabi earned significant income from services performed “at the direction and under the control” of Iran’s government. Afrasiabi drew regular payments from the Iranian government and communicated often with the country’s diplomatic staff. The professional or financial conflicts were not disclosed, Axios reported.
According to the criminal complaint released by the Justice Department, Afrasiabi is a citizen of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Since at least 2007 to the present, Afrasiabi was hired by the Iranian government and paid by Iranian diplomats assigned to the permanent mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations (IMUN) in New York City.