ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Ballsy move

Pro-Palestinian porn star from US visits Tehran, sparking questions

Whitney Wright’s trip spurs heated criticism given Iran’s crackdown on women since 2022 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini and subsequent nationwide protests

In this photo released by the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
In this photo released by the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

An American porn actor who has advocated for Palestinians online during Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas has traveled to Iran and visited the former US Embassy in Tehran, which was abandoned after the 1979 hostage crisis.

The visit by Whitney Wright, as Iran holds Nobel Peace Prize laureate and women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi in prison, sparked heated criticism of the country’s crackdown on women since the 2022 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini and the nationwide protests it sparked.

Wright filmed herself throughout Tehran despite her work in pornography exposing her in theory to criminal charges that carry the death penalty.

Wright did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press. But in remarks on social media, she described the US Embassy as a place she “HAD to visit.” Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard now runs it as a museum.

Iranian students backing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overran the compound after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Embassy staff members taken hostage were held for 444 days. A direct line can be drawn between that crisis and the tensions between Iran and the US today.

“I’m sharing exhibits from a museum that are never seen,” Wright wrote on Instagram. “It’s not an endorsement of the government.”

FILE – A man walks through the former US Embassy, which has been turned into an anti-American museum in Tehran, Iran, on August 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Wright has previously shared pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel information online, including material supporting armed resistance against Israel.

As a US citizen born in Oklahoma City, she would need a visa to visit Iran. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to questions about the actor’s trip.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani was asked about Wright during a Monday briefing and said he had no information about her.

The semiofficial Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to the Revolutionary Guard, quoted an anonymous official claiming the government issued Wright a visa while not being “aware about the nature of her immoral job.”

Wright also posted undated photos of herself on social media in Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey in recent months.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Whitney Wright (@whitneywrightxo)


The presence of a performer from the US adult film industry immediately drew attention.

Iranian actor Setareh Pesiani cited Wright’s visit to criticize Iran’s hardline government for its mandatory headscarf policy, which led to the 22-year-old Amini’s arrest and death.

“You punish people of this country in various methods for removal of hijab but you allow a porn actress to come here for tourism!?” Pesiani wrote on Instagram.

Masih Alinejad, a US-based activist who has faced assassination and kidnapping attempts by Iran, also denounced Wright’s visit.

“We the women of Iran want be like Rosa Parks and not Whitney Wright,” Alinejad wrote, referencing the US civil rights icon. “The true warmongers are the agents of the Islamic Republic who will execute you if you be true to yourself.”

In 2016, a British porn actor known as Candy Charms traveled to Iran, prompting immediate criticism. But there’s been no media coverage of Wright’s visit inside Iran, likely a sign of how tightly controlled journalists are after the 2022 demonstrations.

Then there’s Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, sparked by the terror group’s brutal October 7 massacres. Iranian state media have seized on US support of Israel to criticize the US and opponents of its theocracy. Abdolreza Davari, a media adviser to former hardline Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has as well.

“Israel is absolute evil and filth,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter, in October. “We will stand by anyone who fights against Israel, even if that person is Mia Khalifa, a former porn star who has cleared her record of cruelty and corruption by openly supporting the oppressed Palestinian nation and fighting Zionist crimes.”

FILE – People walk past a state-organized, anti-US mural painted on the wall of the former US Embassy in Tehran, Iran, on August 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Asked about Wright’s visit, the US State Department told the AP in a statement that it has warned Americans to avoid travel to Iran and “exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detention.”

Americans and those with Western ties can find themselves detained and convicted in secret trials to later be used as bargaining chips in negotiations with Washington.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a primary driver of instability across the Middle East region, and it has been since 1979,” the State Department said. “If Iran actually cared about peace and stability in the Middle East region or the welfare of the people there, it would cease its support for terrorist organizations.”

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