Wikileaks denied reports that a document it posted may have been responsible for the arrest and subsequent execution of Majid Jamali Fashi, the 24-year-old kickboxer who was hanged in Tehran on Tuesday morning for working on behalf of the Mossad.
The whistleblowing website tweeted Wednesday that the reports, published first in The Times of London, linking a cable it leaked last August to Fashi’s execution were unfounded and part of a deliberate smear campaign. The group said that the cable it leaked pointed to a different man and made no mention of Israel whatsoever.
“Murdoch’s Times tries to smear WikiLeaks for Iranian hanging. Media morons run with it, without fact checking. The absolute contempt for the readers and the truth shows why there must be urgent reform. Let us consider the Iranian smear. We have [the] wrong guy. This isn’t the guy in the cable. Wrong publication. Spiegel, not WL, selected the cable, but anyway, it was redacted. Wrong country. Israel isn’t even mentioned in the cable. In fact, there’s no connection whatsoever with the story other than……it mentions martial arts. And yet dozens of “press” outlets are running with it. Idiots!” read a series of tweets posted by the site’s administrators Wednesday.
The Times of London reported Wednesday that a document from the US Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, seemingly drew attention to Fashi. The September 2009 US diplomatic document — identified by the code 09BAKU687 — quotes an Iranian source who was a licensed martial arts coach and trainer as describing to his American contacts pressure from the Iranian regime to train soldiers and militiamen in martial arts.
Fashi was reportedly in Baku for an international martial arts competition only days before the US Embassy document was written.
The suggestion was that the Iranian authorities identified Fashi as someone who was in illicit contact with the West on the basis of the document. He was arrested days after the publication of the document by WikiLeaks in December of 2010 and charged with carrying out the January 2010 assassination of nuclear scientist Masoud Ali-Mohammadi on behalf of the Mossad.
The British report Wednesday quoted a UK academic, Birmingham University professor Scott Lucas, speculating that the diplomatic cable may have been a critical piece of evidence or simply a pretext on which to arrest Fashi. “It could have been used as a pretext against him; to set him up as a person who could take the fall for the assassination,” Lucas said.
There is nothing in the US document pertaining to Israel.
Iranian authorities claimed that Fashi admitted to travelling to Tel Aviv for training from the Mossad and funding for the killing of Ali-Mohamaddi.
Tehran has complained to Baku about its close ties to Israel, saying it suspected that Azerbaijan was allowing the Mossad to operate against Iran from its territory.