The Iranian administration says President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the country’s Intelligence Ministry to identify those behind leaking excerpts from an interview with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that was meant to be confidential, censuring the move as a conspiracy against national interests.
“The audio file was released by a vengeful television network, which is funded by petrodollars and has been fervently supporting the sufferings and intimidation of the Iranian nation ever since it was established. This is indicative of the fact that the interview was broadcast conspiratorially and selectively,” Ali Rabiei, the administration’s spokesman, made the remarks at a media briefing in Tehran on Tuesday.
The leaked tape had been recorded on February 24 as part of an “oral history” research scheme by Iranian economist Saeed Laylaz and was first released by a London-based TV channel funded by Saudi Arabia, which calls itself “Iran International.”
“This theft of documents is a conspiracy against the administration, the establishment, domestic unison as well as our efficient and honorable institutions. It is a conspiracy against our national interests,” Rabiei said. “The president has ordered the Intelligence Ministry to identify the agents of this conspiracy.”
Iranian authorities are waiting for Zarif to return from his trip to neighboring Iraq and offer the necessary explanations in order to clear up the misunderstandings, he added.
He added that “this file is indeed a cherry-picked excerpt from a very long interview, which was leaked for the sake of wicked intentions.”
Rabiei explained that the interview was part of a project aimed at reporting and narrating the services, actions, challenges and achievements of the two administrations led by President Hassan Rouhani, adding the project included similar discussions with Iranian ministers and vice presidents under the auspices of the Presidency’s Center for Strategic Studies.
“The complete versions of the audio-visual files and their written transcripts were to be archived in the cabinet office and classified accordingly. An excerpt of each interview was to be archived in a research center, and then published and made available to the public with the consent of the interviewees,” he said.
“Regarding the interview with Zarif, the file was stolen and published by people whose identities are being investigated…,” he added.
On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Zarif’s remarks leaked on Sunday had been taken out of context, adding they were part of a classified discussion that was illegally published, and by no means reflected the official stance of the Islamic Republic.
“What Zarif has said should be seen as a whole” and should not be cherry-picked, Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a weekly press conference.