131. Telegram 3146 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2

Subject:

  • Charges by Former Iranian Student Daryani That US Intelligence Agencies Working Against Iran

Ref:

  • Tehran 3128
1.
I saw FonMin Zahedi at 3:00 p.m. June 14 to discuss Daryani story (reftel). I said I had not come to complain or make protest but to express my concern and dismay about damage this irresponsible story could do to US-Iran relations particularly since story had been floated by offical agency of GOI. (Daryani story was taped for TV and then press was invited in to preview it.) I said because story was obviously made with approval of some ministry or agency of GOI, any reader would gain impression GOI believed story was true.
2.
I then reviewed what we know about Daryani along general lines in para 4 reftel but with a bit more detail and pointed out that we had been in close touch with Iranian security authorities since 1968 on this case and had cooperated with them in every possible way. Under these circumstances I would have expected GOI, as friend, to have queried us privately about story rather than to have made press spectacular out of it.
3.
Zahedi said he wanted me to know privately that he felt badly about way story was handled. Had he been consulted, he would never have agreed to giving story to press but would have asked me to call to discuss it man to man. He [Page 2]said he had been in touch with Court Minister Alam (reftel) and orders had been given to kill use of TV tape on television tonight. Furthermore, he had personally called AP and Reuters correspondents asking them to quote Embassy statement saying story is fabrication (para 5 reftel) and at same time say Daryani statement represented only his views. He also had asked Minister of Information to have papers carry similar appropriate explanation along these lines. Finally, he expressed hope we would keep cool. He knew how exasperated we must feel because when he was Ambassador in Washington he had had a somewhat similar type of unpleasant experience when Attorney General Robert Kennedy not only received group of radical Iranian students that had been attacking Shah but had actively encouraged them by giving them ball-point pens with President KennedY’s name inscribed thereon. I assured him we had not lost our cool and had no desire to magnify this incident. We very much appreciated action he had taken and important thing was to damp story down and in future discuss with us privately any such charges against us as might come to attention of GOI.
4.
I then saw Court Minister Alam at 4:30 p.m. and made same pitch to him. I also gave him my personal view, as I had to Zahedi, that there seemed very reasonable prospect that Daryani, who had been recruited by Soviets many years ago, was still actually in their employ and acting as agent. By his own story he had been in East Germany following his deportation from Canada in 1970. Since Soviets are fully aware of kind of television spectaculars GOI has put on previously with former radical students who have subsequently recanted, what better way was there to try to discredit us and drive wedge between Iran and US than to have Daryani act the way he had.
5.
Alam said he had not seen story in this morning’s paper as he had gone to his office very early to preside over some meetings. While he had given orders to scrub television of Daryani story tonight, the head of television had just called him to say that before orders had been received, Iran Television had at about 1:00 p.m. today broadcast a several minute story calling attention to Daryani story and saying it would be televised tonight. [Page 3]Head of Iran TV now did not know how he could explain scrubbing story and therefore asked permission to use it tonight. Alam said he told him flatly that Shah had given orders to scrub story and that while he would report what TV head had said to Shah later, orders to scrub were still valid.
6.
I then asked Alam privately what was behind all this. Did Shah or senior Iranian officials really believe that we were conniving with Communists to create instabilities in only really stable country in this area with whom we had closest and most friendly relations and with whom we were trying to cooperate in every possible way. Alam replied that there was some feeling in certain quarters (he did not specify) that we might do more to curb demonstrations and activities of radical Iranian students in U.S. I said I understood that General Nasseri had some such feeling. I then went on to explain fact that guarantees of freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, etc., embedded in our constitution apply not only to US citizens but legally resident foreigners and that if they do not break law, there is absolutely nothing we can do to penalize them. At same time I was sure he, Shah and other senior officials knew that we were doing our utmost to cooperate in every way with Iran and at same time to limit, to extent legally possible, unfriendly and hostile actions by radical Iranian students in US against Iranian installations and personalities. Alam said he knew all this and he would see Shah at 5:00. p.m. and give him full report.
7.
Comment: I believe we have done all we can at this juncture to bring to attention at highest level here our concern over effect that this kind of story and way it was handled can have on our relations. I deliberately [Page 5]pitched my representations “more in sadness than in anger” and I know that what I said was sympathetically received by both Zahedi and Alam who are good friends of US. Indeed thay were both embarrassed about it. I would, therefore, not recommend any further expressions of concern or displeasure from Washington at this time and until I have had further talk with Alam, which probably take place tomorrow afternoon or wednesday a.m. In meantime recommend we continue to stick to line we have taken here with press (para 5 reftel). If Dept should be queried as to whether we have made representations to GOI, I would recommend that we say we have not rpt not made any “representations” but that Embassy has made clear that there is no truth in Daryani allegations and that story is obvious fabrication.
MacArthur
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 13–2 IRAN. Confidential; Exdis. In June 1970, for example, when the Shah’s twin sister, Princess Ashraf, visited San Francisco, 40 Iranian students, who raided the Iranian Consulate General in protest, were arrested. However, the U.S. Government declined the request of Iranian officials that the detainees be deported. (NEA/IRN, Office of Iran Affairs, Lot File 76D470, Box 9, Chronological Memoranda of Conversation, Iran 1970.) The Embassy reported other possible explanations, including the idea that SAVAK, following its disclosures of communist activities in Iran, wanted to demonstrate independence of western influence, or that the Shah was putting Washington on the defensive at a time when he was contemplating relations with Communist China. (NEA/IRN, Office of Iran Affairs, Lot File 75D351, Box 6, POL 13–2, Students, Youth Groups, Iran 1971.)
  2. In meetings with minister of Agriculture Zahedi and Minister of Court ALAM, Ambassador MacArthur voiced dismay about the Daryani charges, to which ALAM replied that Iranians felt that the U.S. Government should do more to restrain Iranian students in the United States.