Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Iran's FARS News Caught In Mursi Interview Lie

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency has been caught in a lie, or maybe just wishful thinking. Apparently, they reported that Egypt's new Islamist president Mohammed Mursi (or Morsi) stated in an interview that he plans on establishing better relations with Iran and will be reconsidering the peace treaty with Israel. Without checking whether the story had any basis in truth, it was then published by major media including The Christian Science Monitor, Haaretz and Reuters. It wasn't until Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic and eventually Egypt's MENA news started delving into the matter that the truth was finally revealed: there was no interview with Mursi. At least that's what Mursi's spokesman said, if you can trust him.

On the other hand, the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, also had its doubts. IRNA is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's lap dog agency, whereas FARS supports the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and they definitely do not get along.
Like BBC Arabic and Al-Arabiyah, IRNA reported that Morsi’s spokesman said in a statement that the president-elect had not conducted any interview with Fars before or after his victory. IRNA also claimed that an audio file of the alleged interview made available by Fars on its website was not Morsi's voice at all.

Fars, meanwhile, refused to back down, linking on its website to the extensive coverage the story received in regional and international media.

The hard-line news agency also attacked IRNA, branding the state news agency as aligned with "antirevolutionary" media for trying to denounce the interview and its "key and valuable points."

In recent months, Fars articles have attacked Ahmadinejad's inner circle, which hard-liners describe as a deviant current in Iranian politics.

Not to be outdone, IRNA last week issued a list of what it called "continued gaffes by Fars," which it said can lead to "security misunderstandings" inside the Islamic republic.

The list includes a Fars story about a large joint military exercise by Iran, China, Russia, and Syria that was allegedly to include 90,000 troops and hundreds of ships, tanks, and warplanes. Syria and China later denied the report.

IRNA also accused Fars of having fabricated a 2011 interview with former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Muhammad ElBaradei. His office also denied the interview.

In February, Fars fabricated references to Iran's sensitive nuclear program in its coverage of Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi's acceptance speech at the Oscars.

Some Iranians refer to the agency as "False news" or "Farce news."

Meanwhile, in the United States, a reporter asked State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland for her reaction to the alleged interview. Washington is wary of Iranian influence in the Middle East and is working to ensure that the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty survives the political transition in Cairo.

"Well, obviously we look forward to talking to President-elect [Muhammad] Morsi and his whole government about Egypt's relationships in the neighborhood going forward [and] its upholding of all of its international obligations, including obligations vis-a-vis Iran," Nuland said. "But that said, I wouldn't believe everything that you read on Fars."

IRNA, it seems, has found a rare point of agreement with the U.S. government.
I'm not sure why they would bother lying about something like that, but it certainly proves one can not trust any news outlet.

Mursi plans on suing FARS.

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