Ahmed Vahdat and Richard Spencer report for The Telegraph, March 27, 2015, that journalist Amir Hossein Motaghi, who is a close aide to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, defected while he was in Lausanne, Switzerland, covering the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West. The West’s negotiating team is comprised of the five permanent members of the UN security council and Germany.
Motaghi managed public relations for Rouhani during the latter’s election campaign for the presidency in 2013 by using social media successfully to promote the 66-year-old Rouhani to a youthful audience who overwhelmingly elected him to power.
One news website claimed Motaghi had been tipped off that he might be subject to arrest had he returned to Tehran.
In his television interview, Mottaghi said that “The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”
Mottaghi also said he no longer saw any “sense” in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told. “There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations. But they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels. My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner any more.”
Motaghi is said to be a friend of Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American reporter for the Washington Post who has been detained in Tehran, and to have campaigned privately for Rezaian’s release.