Is Fakhravar A Fraud? (آیا فخرآور یک شیاد است ؟ )   

Is Fakhravar A Fraud?

UPDATE (Oct 8, 2006): There are two follow up posts to this collection of materials about Amir-Abbas Fakhravar. The first continues the discussion on legitimate Iranian opposition that stated in the comments below, the second refers to the evolution of a Laura Rozen piece in Mother Jones.

The Mother Jones article establishes that Fakhravar is not a legitimate regime critic, but is an Ahmed Chalabi like neocon tool to manipulate an U.S. supported regime change in Iran. In the same piece two Iranian dissidents assert that Fakhravar has also been a spy for security forces while having been in prision in Iran.

You are welcome to follow the trail starting with my original post below.

---

A 30 year old Iranian "student" is currently making his circles in some conservative media.

Amir-Abbas Fakhr-Avar, sometimes also named Siyaavash or Siavash, had recent appearances in the New York Sun (May 9, 2006), the Telegraph (May 10, 2006) and the Sunday Times (May 21, 2006). Earlier, there were three National Review pieces about and interviews with him: July 18, 2005, December 5, 2005, February 13, 2006.

One can not deny a certain common tendency throughout these media outlets. So let me ask: Who is this guy?

From the Sunday Times:

Fakhravar, a 30-year-old writer and leader of the dissident Iranian student movement, who has been repeatedly jailed, emerged in Washington last week after spending 10 months on the run inside Iran. His sister was told by Revolutionary Guards that there were orders to shoot him on sight.

He surfaced at the end of last month in Dubai, where 24 hours later he was met by the leading American neoconservative, Richard Perle. Fakhravar was whisked to America last weekend and has already met congressmen and Bush officials. He said he was in Washington to spread one message only: "Regime change," he said, breaking from Farsi into English to deliver it.

Mr. Fakhravar claims about president Bush that, in Iran, "all the youngsters support him and love him" and that "people were buying pastries and cookies and candies in the streets of Tehran and going to each other to celebrate" when Iran was referred by the IAEA to the UN Security Council.

He had a website www.siavashonline.com which is not defunct, though parts can be still found in the Google cache. Since early 2006 his personal website is AmirAbbasFakhravar.com. It includes his bio which you may want to read.

According to it, he is a political activist since his last year in high school time in 1993 when he was also arrested for the first time. Since then he has been a regular in student protests and was arrested several times. He says to have written three books.

Mr. Fakhravar may well be what he claims to be. A legitimate struggler against the government of Iran who has been jailed and even tortured and who deserves support.

But the last time the prince of darkness pushed a "Regime Change" promoting exiles into prominence, there were some serious consequences.

Therefore this little attempt of web-research and of picking apart the information available on Mr. Fakhravar.

To get into the quite long story, I will try to build a timeline and will try to point out where the story may have changed or be inconclusive. If you know more, find stuff that I did not include, or if you see different aspects, please feel free to add to this effort in the comments.

The earliest web-accessible reports on Fakhravar are from 2001. They are coming from a Russian human rights news agency, PRIMA News which is financed by some US foundations.

On Jan. 5, 2001 PRIMA reports: Journalist disappears

IRAN, TEHRAN. Jan. 4-Amir-Abas Fakhr-Avar, a 25-year-old student and correspondent for the banned "Mosharekat" newspaper, was forced from his home on December 31 by five men in civilian clothing. Representatives of the Ministry of Information (the security service of the Islamic Republic of Iran) responded to relatives' inquiries that they know nothing of his being arrested.

According to a report by the Student Movement Coordinating Committee for Democracy in Iran, Fakhr-Avar is the author of the book "The Shah Is Not Here," which has been banned in Iran, and investigative reports on the murders of about 120 Iranian public and political figures between 1996 and 1999."Mosharekat" newspaper is an organ of the Iranian Front for Islamic Participation, a major political association that supports moderate Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. It is one of 17 newspapers closed on April 27 of last year by order of the Islamic Press Affairs Court.

In further PRIMA reports posted on January 12, 2001, February 12, 2001, March 7, 2001 and November 12, 2002 we are told:

  • Fakhravar was arrested on August 19, 2000 during a demonstration and released in late November 2000.

  • He was again arrested on December 31, 2000 supposedly for an "interview to Voice of Iran radio, based in the United States".

  • He was transferred to a hospital on January 11, 2001 after having been beaten.

  • He was again arrested on February 6, 2001.

  • Another arrest of him is reported to have happened on March 6, 2001, this time for taking part in a meeting of the "outlawed" Iranian People's Democratic Front.

  • The last report from November 2002 says he was sentenced to eight years in jail by the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

It also says:

According to the US-based Student Movement Coordinating Committee for Democracy in Iran (SMCCDI), the dissident was also incriminated with writing a book "The Shah Is Not Here" which has been banned in Iran.

All the above news agency items are sourced solely on reports from the Student Movement Coordinating Committee for Democracy in Iran, an organization seated in Addison, Texas. The Who We Are on the site reads:

The "Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran"  (SMCCDI) is completely independent of other groups and political affiliation as far as its administration and decision making is concerned.

Their history highlights activities like:

the invitation of top American officials and policy-makers such as Michael Ledeen to the Internet Q and A sessions and by this means providing major support for the advancement of friendship among the two nations in the hours that the Islamic Republic was trying to portray America as the enemy of the Iranian nation and the widespread reflection of this meeting through the mass media

Searching for "Voice of Iran Radio" brings up KRSI.net, Radio Sedaye Iran, an exile radio station in Los Angeles (currently on the front page: Bolton, Leeden, Rice). In the Financial Times Guy Dinmore wrote on December 5 2003 US lobbyists tune in for regime change in Iran (behind subscription wall - there is a copy on some forum in the Google cache here  (scroll down)):

With a touch of under-statement - "we are trying something a little out of the ordinary today" - one of America's most influential neo-conservative lobby groups this week started broadcasting a live radio chat-show out of its Washington headquarters and into Iran, featuring interviews with opposition activists in both countries.

The teaming-up of the well-funded and well-connected American Enterprise  Institute (AEI) with Los Angeles-based Radio Sedaye Iran (Voice of Iran) marks a new step in the efforts of the US right to influence regime change in the Islamic republic.
[...]
Most of the Los Angeles-based exile radio stations have monarchist leanings and several listeners reflected those views. While Mr Pahlavi, now a resident of Virginia, has the backing of some AEI members, the panel of exiled opposition activists assembled in Washington to go on air represented a broader spectrum.

Manda Zand Ervin, head of the International Alliance of Iranian Women, served under the Shah before the 1979 Islamic revolution and is regarded as close to the monarchists.
[...]

Those to the background of the PRIMA News stories.

Back to the timeline:

Iran va Jahan, a London based exile site reports on March 19 2003:

Amir Abbas Fakhravar, a political activist, was savagely beaten and sustained heavy knee injuries, upon his voluntary presentation to the judiciary in Tehran on March 18, 2003.

Transferred to Ghasr prison, without medical attention, Amir Abbas Fakhravar was incarcerated amongst criminals, bandits, rapists, and drug traffickers.

A follow up on March 22 has this:

One case is that of Amir Abbas(Siavash) Fakhravar a 27 year old Iranian writer and journalist, who previously worked in the now banned daily "Khordad." He was rearrested two days ago in Tehran.

Speaking from Iran, his father said that Amir who was recovering from a broken knee injury had been summoned by Seyed Madjid of the 26th branch of the

Revolutionary Court
to appear at a hearing for his appeal against the charge of "Offending the Rahbar.

This charge is based on writing one book and signing two statements. His book written in 2002 was entitled "This place is not a ditch" - Inja Chah nist.
[...]
Amir is currently being held in Ghasr prison, where non-political prisoners, including sex offenders and murderers are kept. According to his father, while being transported to Ghasr, he was subjected to severe beatings in the head and the broken knee and the abdomenal area.

Expressing his fear for Amir's safety, his father said that, "Ghasr is not a political prison. They are keeping my son with murderers and rapists. I am afraid that the authorities will order the other prisoners to hurt Amir."

Mr. Fakhravar continued, "I urge all Iranians who care to please help secure the release of my young son. He has sacrificed his life for Iran. Please help him!"

Another update on June 10 2003:

Amir Fakhravar, a pro-democracy activist and medical graduate has been sentenced to eight years in prison for his political activities by the revolutionary courts, but in order to further his suffering, he is kept in Qasr prison amongst common criminals.

This is the third assault on Fakhravar since he was first taken prisoner.

Fakhravar was first attacked by the notorious deranged revolutionary court secretary, Seyyed Madjid Hosseinian, during his court appearance in front of his parents which resulted in Fakhravar having a broken leg.

A few questions and remarks:

  • Is the book "This place is not a ditch" the same or a different one as "The Shah Is Not Here"?

  • What is the actual translation of "Inja Chah nist", the Persian title?

  • Could there be a marketing reason for a title change, i.e. to avoid the word Shah?

  • What is the Seyed Madjid of the 26th branch of the
    Revolutionary Court
    ?

  • What does Rahbar mean and what is the meaning of "Offending the Rahbar"?

  • In the second report the interviewed and quoted father says that Fakhravar was reconvalesenting from a broken knee when he had to appear in court, in the third report that changes unsourced into a broken leg that resulted from the court appearance.

  • Also according to the quoted father, the beatings did not happen in front of the court, but on the way from the court to the prison.

(If you know Farsi, please help me with answers to the questions above.)

According to the May 9 2006 New York Sun report (behind subscriber wall, copy here) on Fakhravar intense contacts between the US neocon movement and Fakhravar started in early 2003:

Mr. Perle first got in contact with Mr. Fakhravar in 2003 through a contact in Los Angeles who asked that she only be referred to her by her first name, Manda. Manda, who emigrated to America from Iran in 2000, sought out Mr. Perle through contacts of her father, who served as a high official in the Shah's government toppled in the 1979 revolution.
[...]
"Whenever Amir Abbas wanted to talk to Richard, at 11 at night, at five in the morning, Richard was available every time," she said. Mr. Perle says he remembers these conversations with Mr. Fakhravar and one of the leaders of the 1999 Tehran University uprising, Ahmad Batebi. "I was reluctant to stay on the phone so long because I know about the technology," he said.

You will remember that the FT, linked above, had written on the AEI contacts with an Iranian expat monarchist women Manda Zand Ervin.

The London Pen Club has an undated entry on Fakhravar:

Profession: Writer, journalist for the now-banned pro-reform dailies Mosharekat and Khordad, and law student.

Date of arrest: 10 November 2002

Sentence: 8 years in prison

Expires: 9 November 2010

Details of trial:Sentenced by Bench 26 of the Revolutionary Court on or around 10 November 2002 to eight years in prison for criticizing the supreme leadership of Iran in his book Inja Chah Nist ('This Place is not a Ditch'), shortlisted for the 2001/2002 Paolo Coelho Literary Prize. Following a period of leave from Evin prison he was ordered to appear in court on 18 March for an appeal hearing. When he appeared he was denied representation by his lawyers. After an argument with the judge he was beaten in front of Bench 26 before being transferred to prison. It is thought that he may have been targeted for writing an open letter to the authorities on 4 February 2003 criticizing the Iranian government and demanding a referendum on the future government of Iran.

There are several questions/remarks on this entry:

  • Who gave this information to the Pen Club London?

  • Here Fakhravar is said to be a law student. In his own bio he was first a "medicine student" and was accepted by a law faculty only in 2004. The Pen entry must  have been made after this.

  • Sentenced on November 10, 2002 to eight years Fakhravar was on a period of leave in early 2003. I do find this extraordinary. But maybe the 8 year sentence was on probation? Or he was free on bail until the appeal on March 18, 2003?

  • There was an argument before the court about the admission of the lawyers. If this was an appeal to a sentences by a lower court, this could make sense as not all lawyer have accreditation to higher courts. But that is speculation. I have found no information on why the judge refused the lawyers.

  • The Pen entry claims that Fakhravar was "beaten in front of Bench 26 before being transferred to prison". The father said in an interview that the beating did take place not in front of the court, but during the transport from court to prison.

  • The Evin prison from which, as Pen says, Fakhravar "was on leave" seems to be a kind of political(?) jail (with leave?) while we know from the father that after the court dispute the son was put to Ghasr, a prison for criminals.

  • What happened in front of the court, that made the judge to take the decision for an immediate arrest in a prison for criminals? 

  • Even after intensive googling and reading through Paolo Coelho's long bio I fail to find any evidence for the existence of a "Paolo Coelho Literary Prize" or a similar award.

  • Note that the title of the book here is again not "The Shah Is Not Here" but "This Place is not a Ditch".

  • PRIMA News said the book was banned in Iran. Fakhravar in his bio says "“Inja chah nist” was   published in the US in 2002". I do not find any reference of the book, except in story about Fakhravar, with either title. Who might have "shortlisted" a book banned in Iran and impossible to find and to buy for this unknown literary price?

In September 2003 Canadian journalist Jane Kokan made a report from Iran on the Iranian student movement for PBS Frontline. It was aired on December 2 2003 by Channel 4 and January 4 2004 by PBS. A video sequence (at 5:10) includes Fakhravar arguing with his mother. From the transcript:

JANE KOKAN: [voice-over] Amir Fakhravar, arrested 17 times, is now serving 8 years in prison for student activism and calling for democracy in Iran. To the students, he’s both a leader and hero. This video of Fakhravar and his mother was filmed secretly just before he went to prison last year.

[...]
JANE KOKAN: The same day, I’ve arranged to meet my most important contact in Iran, a man we’ll call Arzhang. He’s been a political activist since the late ‘70s, when the shah was deposed, and now he’s helping the students take on the mullahs. It’s brave of him, like Kianoosh, to insist that I show his face. Arzhang has set up a telephone interview for me with the student leader Amir Fakhravar from jail.

[on camera] Do you think we’ll see a new democratic Iran sometime soon?

[voice-over] Amazingly, Fakhravar has gained access to a phone line inside one of Iran’s toughest prisons.

[on camera] Will you, the students, win? What do you think? Will you win the battle? OK, I’ll pass you back to Arzhang. OK.

[voice-over] Fakhravar’s English and my Farsi aren’t exactly perfect, so I ask Arzhang to act as our interpreter.

An Iranian opinion on the piece

Cold war mentality and this cloak and dagger attitude to journalism has killed enough legitimate stories. I hope the chronicle of Iranians struggle towards democracy and the different obstacles they face in that road is not fallen victim to fast cut, overly dramatic, sensationalist treatment Jane Kokan employed in this way-too-short documentary.

A comment on the opinion reads:

To me it was totally obvious that every thing was set up for the camera. Camera moved around the guy and at the end of the shot the camera moved towards the mother’s face showing her tears. What kind of "secretly shot is that? Why does the guy need to do a lecture for the camera before going to jail? and how has such a person have access to the phone in such a "police regime?"

and another:

One interesting thing was the claim that the student was at Ghasr prison. Am I the only one who read that the prison was shut down a couple months ago? They’re turning it into a park or museum or some such thing. And anyway I don’t think there ever were political prisoners there... Whatever. It sucked.

My questions/remarks:

  • "Arzhang. He’s been a political activist since the late ‘70s, when the shah was deposed"  - was this man an "activist" for the shah or against the shah? The first would put him into a certain political "monarchist" that is, as the FT piece shows, connected to the AEI.

  • I agree with the commentator that this was not a "secretly shoot video".

  • A phonecall from a harsh prison for criminals seems indeed extraordinary.

  • If as the Kokan report claims, this political activism in Iran is so very dangerous, why is everybody showing their face? That would not be heroic, but stupid.

There are several topics mentioning Fakhravar in a forum at a FREE IRAN Project site. An early entry from December 17 2003 sourced on an Iran activist in London reads:

Amir Abbas (Siavash) Fakhravar, jailed Iranian student and the subject of the recent Channel 4 documentary, Iran Uncovered, has been badly beaten up by other criminal inmates. The prison authorities have refused to provide him medical treatment. Fakhravar is kept in a cell with 25 other common criminals at the Qasr prison. All are dangerous prisoners jailed for serious offences. There are still 3000 prisoners kept at Qasr prison while the other 5000 have been moved to another prison.

The UK Amnesty International site has a page on Fakhravar posted on February 13 2004.

This is the first time that Amnesty International has documented evidence of the practice of "white torture" in Iran.

Amir Abbas Fakhravar has been in prison for over a year. In January 2004, he was taken from Qasr prison to a detention centre called 125 to be interrogated about his alleged links with a political organisation called Jonbesh-e Azadi-ye Iraniyan, which opposes the Iranian government. The centre is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, a military force responsible for matters of national security.

His cell in the 125 detention centre reportedly had no windows, and was entirely coloured creamy white, as were his clothes. At meal times, he was reportedly given white rice on white, disposable paper plates and if he needed to use the toilet, he had to put a white slip of paper under the door of the cell to alert guards, who reportedly had footwear designed to muffle any sound. He was forbidden to speak to anyone.

Amnesty International has been told that the "silence is deafening" in the facility and that this technique of sensory deprivation is called "white torture" (shekanjeh-e sefid). Such conditions of extreme sensory deprivation appear to be designed to weaken the prisoner by causing persistent and unjustified suffering which amounts to torture.

On or around 8 February, Amir Abbas Fakhravar was reportedly allowed to leave the detention centre. However, two days later he was taken into custody again. This is a form of psychological torture, which keeps a prisoner in a permanent state of uncertainty and anxiety. While he was free he was able to tell others about what was being done to him. It is not clear whether he is now held at 125, Qasr or elsewhere.

Amir Abbas Fakhravar was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment on defamation charges in November 2002, because of comments on Iran's political leadership in his book Inja Chah Nist (This Place is Not a Ditch). In February 2003, he and imprisoned student demonstrator Ahmad Batebi signed an open letter which criticised the Iranian authorities.

The letter stated, "We wish to openly and overtly express our dedication to all universal covenants. We want to show our respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, universal peace, non-violence, environmental protection, permanent progress" and added that "violence has absolutely no place in our struggle, neither in our words nor in our deeds." Shortly afterwards, he was reportedly beaten in front of judges in the court room where his appeal was being heard.

Questions/Remarks:

  • The PBS piece including a phone interview with Fakhravar was aired December 2, 2003 and January 4, 2004. The prison change from Qasr (Ghasr?) to a detention center, according to Amnesty, also happens in January. This may well be connected.

  • All the "white torture" stuff seems to unverified by AI. They use qualifiers, "reportedly", "has been told", "reportedly" in those paragraphs, while the other paragraphs are unqualified. Who "told" AI about this? (In the recent Sunday Times piece and others AI is used as "proof" and "source" for this "white tourture" claim without mentioning AI's unusual qualifications.)

  • AI says he was questioned for "his alleged links with a political organization called Jonbesh-e Azadi-ye Iraniyan". His own bio says: "Fakhravar is the founder of the Movement for the freedom of Iran (Jonbeshe Azadye Iranian, JAI)". Alleged links?

  • According to the Pen entry Fakhravar was imprisoned in March 18, 2003 for an 8 year sentence. According to this AI entry he was freed on February 8 2004 and again arrested on February 10 2004.

Another AI entry reports:

On or around 21 March, Iran’s New Year or No Rouz, he was granted 19 days’ leave.

Fakhravar's bio says:

Once again his fathers tireless efforts got him transferred to Evin’s Political ward. In 2004 together with Ahmad Batebi and Mohammad Manouchehri he participated in the national university entrance exams and was accepted by the law faculty of Payyame Noor University.

The transfer from the prison to the ward must have happened sometime between early 2004 and September 2004, but I have no idea when exactly. Is the Evin’s Political ward  the "white torture" "detention center" AI mentions or is there a different third place?

Another post at the FREE IRAN Project forum on September 30 2004:

KRSI has reported the sad news of the death of Amir Abbas Fakhravar's (maverick student activist) father, Mohammad Bagher Fakhravar (former Iranian Air Force Officer), in a car accident, in which his brother has been seriously hurt and is in coma. The Jomhoriye Kasife Eslame has demanded a large sum of money for Amir Abbas to attend the funeral of his father.

In April 2005 the Paris based Iran journalist Safa Haeri for his Iran Press Service has a long interview with Fakhravar:

Speaking with the Iran Press Service from Tehran during a short leave from prison, Mr. Amir Abbas Fakhravar of the Confederation of Independent Iranian Students (CIIS) that fights for a secular, democratic system based on a freely elected Parliament expressed support for the proposal of boycotting the coming presidential elections and turning the occasion into a referendum for changing the present Iranian political system, as suggested recently by Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam.
[...]
Editor’s note: Born in 1975 and single, Mr. Amir Abbas Fakhravar is serving an eight years imprisonment, on charges of insulting the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i.

He experienced his first jail when 17 year old and was imprisoned 18 times since.

He has been exiled several times to remote areas in Iran, abducted and thrown in unknown prison in Oroumiyeh (north-eastern Iran) and tortured.

Students at law faculty, he was forced to abandon studies. Evin is my residency.

Has collaborated with several reformist newspapers, wrote three books, including “Here is Not a Ditch”. After newspapers in Iran reported that the book was presented to the Paulo Coelho Literary Award, security forces raided his house and office and took all the copies, but a diskette was saved, sent abroad, where the book was translated into English and published.

“Lost Prison Papers” is a collection of life and tortures in Iranian prisons.

Remarks:

  • The interview has a strong "Regime Change" tone. But as it does not further the timeline I will not try to wade into it for now.

  • This is the first time where I see a claim of "exiled several times to remote areas in Iran, abducted and thrown in unknown prison in Oroumiyeh (north-eastern Iran)".  According to his own bio: "In 1994 he was elected chairman to the student government body of the University of Medical Sciences in Uroomiye, [...] In 1996 [...] he was arrested on university campus and was incarcerated by the ministry of Information in Uroomiyeh". Exiled? Abducted? Unknown prison in dark north-eastern Iran?

  • You may be interested in Sala Haeri's interview with Amir-Entezam on the referendum. From what I have read, there are serious infights between various exile groups positioning themselves for  a unlikely referendum.

  • The law faculty, which has accepted him in 2004, somehow ditched him in 2005

  • "Evin is my residency." As Safa Haeri lives in Paris, this is of course not an "Editors Note". Has Fakhravar send in his bio and Haeri missed to change that part? If so, who came up with the "exiled" above?

As additional background: Wikipedia

Abbas Amir-Entezam was the spokesman and the secretary of the Interim Cabinet of Mehdi Bazargan in 1979. In 1981 when he was ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran in Scandinavian countries, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, asked him to come back quickly to Tehran via an encrypted message. After coming back to Tehran he was arrested because of allegations based on some documents retrieved from U.S. embassy takeover and received life time prison from court.

According to Fakhravar's own bio there are three books: In 1997 "Sabztarin Cheshme zamin" ("the greenest eyes on earth") was published. In 2000 or 2001  "Inja Chah nist" (this place is not a ditch) was written while being in the political ward of Evin prison and "this novel was short listed for the Paulo Coelho literature price". In 2001/2002 he was again arrested and put into solitary confinement.

The memoirs of those days are summarized in the book; “still, Prisons lost papers” which was published in July 2005 by the American publication “Ketab”. This was his second book to get published in the USA (“Inja chah nist” was published in the US in 2002)

As said above, I do not find any trace on the internets of the first or second book at all nor of a Paulo Coelho literature price. 

The latest one, in English and Farsi was published in 2005 by Ketab Corp in Los Angeles, a company specialized on Persian media. The book has an ISBN number but a search through bookfinder and some other means does not find any other place where it is mentioned or where one could buy it.

The picture on the front of the book is one that Fakhravar also has on his website. It has the subtext "from left to right: Amir Abbas, Ahmad Batebi in Evin prison (Iran)". Telling from the picture, the photo studio in Envin prison (Iran) has some pretty good equipment.

From the bio:

Short while ago Amir Abbas received leave from prison to participate in university exams, after which he didn’t return to prison. As a consequence of this action an order to shoot on sight was issued in his name.

The Sunday Times writes in May 2006:

Fakhravar, a 30-year-old writer and leader of the dissident Iranian student movement, who has been repeatedly jailed, emerged in Washington last week after spending 10 months on the run inside Iran. His sister was told by Revolutionary Guards that there were orders to shoot him on sight.

He surfaced at the end of last month in Dubai, where 24 hours later he was met by the leading American neoconservative, Richard Perle.

In April 2005 in the Sala Haeri interview it is claimed that Fakhravar was ditched from the law studies, but some ten month ago, about Mai/June 2005, we was getting leave from the ward to participate in university exams. That definitely does not fit.

December 05, 2005 he has an telephone interview with Jason Lee Steorts of the National Review titled Message From Underground.

In May of this year, while on such a leave, he decided he had had enough, and ran.

As for "His sister was told by Revolutionary Guards that there were orders to shoot him on sight." The only source for this is the bio on Fahkravars website. He certainly didn´t behave like that danger was real.

In December 2005 Sahari Dastmalchi, an young Iranian woman grown up in the Netherlands has met Fakhrava in Iran. With four people they drive into the mountains for some kind of weekend camping. She has written a piece, ending in a quite a romantic scene, about this at Iranian.com. Therein she calls him and his friends "monarchist and republican". She describes him as charismatic:

Siavash is a very likable young man very sociable and down to earth, at the same time polite and gentlemanly like with remarkable green eyes. The color of the eyes is not what makes them remarkable, his eyes are unusually communicative. One look in this mans face and I couldn’t help feel like I was naked, with one handshake this man knew all my deepest darkest secrets. To be quite honest it felt like he knew things the rest of us had missed.

Oh, you want the romantic scene?

He put his arm around me and pulled me closer towards him “Well, start packing then, Jooje Hollandi (Dutch chick lit)” he said laughing “can I ..?” as he looked at the huge blanket I had dragged out with me.

I smiled and full of confidence answered, “Sure, we lefties don’t mind sharing” as I gave him a corner of my blanket. So he could cuddle up next to me.

He just laughed at me “wise ass” he said while he got himself settled. We sat there perfectly still smelling the sweet mountainous morning air.

“Siavash, I am glad I met you,” I said quietly.

Sahari Dastmalchi has written for The Iranian several times. The Iranian is a website marketed to young expats. She blogs and wants to become a journalist and she meets Fakhravar, as it seems from her piece, just by chance during a visit in Iran and has such a nice weekend with this charismatic men and another young ideal pair. This while "an order to shoot on sight" is issued against him.

Quite a story.

In January the domain name for Fakhravars website is registered through a provider in Teheran.

Domain Name:amirabbasfakhravar.com

Record last updated at 2006-01-24 00:04:11

Record created on 2006/1/2

Record expired on 2007/1/2

Domain servers in listed order:

ns2.zoneedit.com ns17.zoneedit.com

Administrator:
name: Amir solymani kashaniha

mail: info@amirabbasfakhravar.com tel: +98.9121916084

org: Amir solymani kashaniha

An February 13, 2006 interview on National Review Online with Fakhravar mentions a Manda from Los Angeles that appears again to be the monarchist Manda Zand Ervin that also appeared in the 2003 FT article above.

Through the help of an Iranian émigré living in California - who wishes to be identified only by her first name, Manda - Fakhravar recently phoned NR deputy managing editor Jason Lee Steorts to discuss Iran's nuclear program, the hopes of the Iranian people, and his life as a fugitive.

[...]
NRO: What do Iranians think of George W. Bush?

Fakhravar: The people of Iran, especially the youth, are so admiring of Bush and his administration for siding with the people of Iran rather than the government of Iran. No other leader of any government, even the Europeans, took this stand. All the youngsters support him and love him, and we want to express our deepest gratitude for him and his administration and what they are doing to liberate us.
NRO
: Are you receiving any support from the U.S. government?
Fakhravar
: I cannot mention who, but I'm definitely communicating with some people in the U.S. government and have established contacts with people in the Bush administration.

According to the NY Sun and Sunday Times, April 29 2006 Fakhravar meets Richard Perle in Dubai and went from there to Washington DC. Since then, according to his picture gallery, he has been meeting Michael Ledeen and Senator Rick Santorum and, one may guess, a lot of other important people. He is making the rounds in the media.

A hero he is, or is he? Enough people have written that story.

To me this man seems to be something else. But I will write that story on another day.

Posted by Bernhard on May 26, 2006 at 03:14 PM | Permalink

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