The President's website has accused the media of misrepresenting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by reporting "fragmented and distorted" versions of statements he made about smuggling in a recent television interview.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) with Mohammad General Ali Jafari (February 2010)
An announcement posted last night describes media coverage of
the meeting on New Strategies for the Prevention and Fight against Smuggling of
Currency and Goods as "unethical and unprofessional."
The announcement seems to refer to Ahmadinejad's comments about certain government and military bodies that import goods through illegal piers and entry points.
On Saturday, some of the Iranian President's statements were aired live on national television. Ahmadinejad says: "All illegal borders must be closed. It is not acceptable to say it belongs to such-and-such institution or organ. Each one of them has opened a hole in some corner and is importing and exporting things at will."
He adds: "If the goods are related to security, intelligence or defence... they can still be brought in through legal borders."
During the live television program, Ahmadinejad noted the vast extent of cigarette smuggling, saying: "Cigarette consumption in Iran is a $2-billion business annually...it would tempt the top smugglers of the world, let alone our own smuggling brothers."
The President's website does not mention the terms "security, intelligence and defence goods" or "our own smuggling brothers," but they were highlighted by the Iranian media and interpreted as references to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which has developed far-reaching economic influence in recent decades.
Yesterday, the head of the IRGC, Mohammad Ali Jaffari, reacted to the term "illegal piers" by saying: "This is a deviant argument uttered by people we believe to be driven by an agenda."
"The armed forces are naturally in control of certain military piers," Jaffari added, "and none of them is used for the trade of goods."
Reports of illegal ports of entry into Iran have surfaced several times in recent years; the former head of the Task Force Against the Smuggling of Goods and Currency, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibof, declared there were 180 illegal ports in 2004.
However, the current head of the task force, Saeed Mortazavi, who attended Saturday's meeting with Ahmadinejad, said no illegal ports are in operation at this point, and all related files have been closed.
Related Story: Iran's Guards Chief Denies Smuggling Through IRGC Piers
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