An Iranian journalist who was sent to cover the nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, defected over the weekend.
Amir Hossein Motaghi, who was instrumental in the election of President Hassan Rouhani when he served as his personal aide during the Iranian election, asked authorities in Switzerland to grant him political asylum.
Montaghi told an Iranian opposition channel broadcasting from London that he did not see any sense in his profession as a journalist since he could only write what he was told to write.
According to the British Telegraph newspaper, Motaghi also harshly criticized the American role in the talks, saying the White House was attempting to persuade the other members of the P5+1 group of nations (US, England, France, Russia, China and Germany) to accept Iran’s point of view.
“The US negotiating team is mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” Montaghi said.
He is said to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association.
“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations,” he said on Irane Farda television.
“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,” he added, the Telegraph reported.
Iran and the P5+1 are conducting marathon negotiations in Lausanne to reach a deal regarding oversight of Iran’s nuclear activities in return for a lifting of international sanctions. US Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif no fewer than eight times in the past week. Kerry canceled his attendance at an event in Boston in order to continue with the negotiations.
The deadline for reaching a framework agreement with Iran is March 31. A detailed agreement is to be worked out by the end of June.