By Fereshteh Ghazi, Rooz Online
Academician Sadegh Zibakalam went home yesterday after posting a 50 million Toman bail. He had been summoned to the attorney general’s office and served an official complaint. Zibakalam is recognized as a supporter of president Rouhani’s administration and spoke to Rooz a few hours after posting his bail. He said that he had been accused of spreading lies, slander and insulting the judiciary, spreading rumors, weakening the regime, engaging in propaganda against the regime and disturbing public peace.
Sadegh Zibakalam - artwork by Bozorgmehr Hosseinpur
In an open letter to Shariatmadari, Zibakalam had earlier asked the editor what the benefits of the nuclear program were for the country. It appears that this question has brought the wrath of many hardliners.
Zibakalam told Rooz that the suit against him was filed by the public prosecutor. “The prosecutor has filed a complaint against me specifically because of my open letter to Hossein Shariatmadari regarding the debate over the nuclear issue and my defense of Amir Khosravi who has been accused of the publicized 3 billion Toman embezzlement case. After the Steadfast Front (a group comprising hardliners who have been critical of Rouhani’s policies) launched harsh attacks on the interim Geneva accord, I wrote an open letter to Hamid Rasai after which Kayhan newspaper published attacks against me in its second page. I then wrote an open letter to its editor, Hossein Shariatmadari asking him to explain what benefits the nuclear issue had brought for Iran and for the country’s economy, development and progress, despite its heavy costs,” he said.
Zibakalam is a vocal professor of political science at Tehran University who has questioned many of the policies of the hardliners. “Mr. Shariatmadari wrote in his newspaper that my opinions were caused by United States’ opposition to our nuclear program which made me scared and that I had surrendered to the West. If they are really concerned about the economic condition of people, then why do they defend the economic embezzlers and those who steal from public funds and the defenders in the three billion Toman embezzlement case. I wrote a second letter which the prosecutor characterized as criminal and then summoned me to the public prosecutor’s office and after interrogating me accused me of spreading lies, insulting the judiciary, spreading rumors, weakening the regime, engaging in propaganda against the regime and disturbing public peace. The prosecutor specifically told me that I did not have the right to write what I did about the nuclear issue and had no right to say that the nuclear program has had no benefits for the country. In my letter to Shariatmadari I had also written that from what I know of the three billion Toman embezzlement case, the judgment of the court and the supreme court have been more bent on satisfying public opinion rather than finding the facts,” he said.
In response to Rooz’s question about what he thought of the complaint against him, he said, “I had asked Mr. Shariatmadari and Mr. Rasai to explain what were the benefits and accomplishments of the nuclear program, because everything that is said about the program are political issues. For example they say that Iran’s international position has been elevated because of the program, or that respect for Iran has increased because of it. My question is: what is the international position on North Korea and Pakistan which have an even more advanced nuclear program? The answer is that they have none. It is not true that our position has elevated because of the nuclear program and in fact it has gone down and the program has created problems for us. A large number of world powers have become enemies with us. Regardless of the fact that the US and West oppose our nuclear program, this is not important for me. Even if all the members of the UN agreed with our nuclear program we should still not spend so much money on it. Should a country that is among the most backward states in the world in areas of health, education, and environment and is at the level of some undeveloped African countries, not have its priorities in health, education and the environment? Should its priorities not be in dealing with the issue regarding its drying rivers such as Zayande Rood and lakes such as Orumieh? Regardless of whether the Americans support or oppose our nuclear program, our economic priorities should not be to make such heavy expenditures for the nuclear program.”
“What I wrote made the prosecutor angry. The same is true about the embezzlement case. They felt disrespected. I told the prosecutor that Mr. Shariatmadari, Mr. Rasai and myself have certain views on the nuclear issue: they support it and say the Geneva agreement was a sellout while I am not saying anything about the Geneva agreement, but say that our expenditures in the nuclear program are a waste,” Zibakalam continued, and concluded with this question, “So one is deemed a criminal and a saboteur if he does not defend the nuclear program?”
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