A public reply to the Mujahedin’s terrorist threats against our journalist work and ourselves in Albania

Behzad Saffari, a MEK commander in Iraq and inside the Ministry of Interior in Tirana, Albania

Sander Lleshaj

Minister of Internal Affairs

 

Etilda Gjonaj

Minister of Justice

 

CC:

Council of Europe

Human Rights Watch

Reporters Without Borders

 

A public reply to the Mujahedin’s terrorist threats against our journalist work and ourselves in Albania

Ministers Lleshaj and Gjonaj,

 

On 23 June, 2020 a number of ex-terrorists Mujahedin who live in Albania as refugees and describe themselves as members of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) sent you a public letter where they attack Olsi Jazexhi and Gjergji Thanasi, two Albanian journalists and scholars.

These foreign fighters who were granted asylum in Albania, are members of a much larger group (MEK) which has a long history of violence and terrorism. Your government has allowed these ex-terrorist and foreign fighters to build a large paramilitary base in our country where thousands of their soldiers and commanders are stationed. By infringing many international and national laws and taking into consideration that MEK was part of US State Department and European Union list of terrorist organizations up to 2012, your government is hosting and allowing them to violate many Albanian laws and intimidate their critics and journalists like us who investigate their wrongdoings. As you might be aware MEK has publicly attacked many well known Western news outlets, like the BBC, Channel 4, Al Jazeera, New York Times and all the Albanian media who revealed to the public their crimes. We have become a target of MEK attacks, too.

In their open letter that they sent to you, they attacked us by claiming:

“Olsi Jazexhi and Gjergji Thanasi publish the content of the Iranian regime’s websites and cover associations on Gazeta Impakt or on their own Facebook pages of which only a limited number of members of the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence are their readers. The Iranian regime then publishes the same material once again on its media as if the Albanian people support the demands of the Iranian notorious Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). We have been made aware that the regime then distributes the same reports in prisons to justify further pressure on prisoners and our families”

They have called on your ministries:

“to investigate the illicit actions of Olsi Jazexhi and Gjergji Thanasi in favour of religious persecution in Iran and their contribution in the suppression of our families and the advancement of terrorism against Iranian refugees in Albania.”

Their open letter was followed by another attack that the official page of MEK has launched against us on August 10, 2020. In an anonymous article entitled: “How Do Mullahs Operate in Albania after the Expulsion of Two of Their Diplomat-Terrorists?”

MEK has accused us of being local agents of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security. They write:

“Massoud Khodabandeh and his wife Anne Singleton, the notorious London-based MOIS agents, are two who are in daily contact with several MOIS local agents in Albania, including Gjergji Thanasi and Olsi Jazexhi. Thanasi and Jazexhi are in direct contact with MEK defectors recruited by the MOIS, including Hassan Heyrani. The local operatives hang out at a café in the Fresco area of ​​Tirana, where they coordinate their espionage activities. Heyrani, who runs the Café, also pays the rent and other costs involved.”

While it is true that we as investigative journalists and scholars communicate with several Iranians in Albania and abroad, as well as foreign journalists who have their concerns about MEK’s violent and illegal activities, we want to inform your ministries that we are not agents of any foreign country or organization. We have no connections with MOIS or any Iranian state institution. Our journalistic work is not to support any country or foreign entity or any religious repression as these ex-terrorists try to character assassinate us. In our journalistic work we are contacted by many Iranian families and activists who want to find out about the human rights abuse and radicalisation that MEK does against its members who have relatives in Iran and around the world.We do our journalistic duty to serve as a bridge between the victims of MEK’s inhumane treatment of their members and their families back home. With our journalistic work we fulfil our duty to expose and investigate MEK’s lies, human rights abuses, radicalization, espionage and promotion of hatred and war against foreign countries.

While we are not afraid from MEK’s threats, lies and character assassination, we would like to urge your ministries to grant us full protection against these foreign fighters and ex-terrorist mujahedin. These people have blood on their hands and the possibility exist that we might be physically attacked or even murdered by these violent foreign fighters and ex terrorists. In 2018 they attacked in Tirana the Canadian/Iranian family of Mostafa Mohamady who was even hospitalized after their violent attack.

We have noticed in the past weeks that some departments and part of the personnel of your ministries have been at service of MEK. They are indirectly helping MEK in its campaign of persecution of the defectors of the organization and we personally are noticing that your police are also harassing us and our families in the work that we do.

We kindly demand that your ministries investigate the illegal activities and threats that MEK does against journalism in Albania and us in person.We want your ministries to protect us from the threats, intimidation, lies and attacks that MEK carries out against media and journalists in our country.

We urge your ministries to implement the Albanian Penal Code articles on Foreign Fighters, to do its best to deradicalize these Iranian Mujahedin and stop MEK paramilitary organization from using Albania as a base for their attacks against journalism and media.

 

Sincerely yours

Gjergji Thanasi

Olsi Jazexhi

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