The following letter was sent to the Minister of Democratic Institutions Hon. Karina Gould and the Minister of Public Safety Hon. Ralph Goodale from the ICC VP Pouyan Tabasinejad on behalf of the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC), warning them about foreign interference by pro-war groups including the cult group MEK:
Honourable Ministers Karina Gould and Ralph Goodale,
I am writing this letter to you on behalf of the Iranian Canadian Congress, a non-profit and non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to defending the interests of the Iranian Canadian community, a population estimated at 300,000 across the country.
This letter is to inform you of a coordinated effort by foreign governments and foreign funded organizations to disrupt and influence Canadian politics and political discourse. We have come to these conclusions after a series of events came to light after they were uncovered by journalists. It is our position that these efforts constitute election interference in advance of the federal election in October, and that this effort must be immediately investigated and addressed by the Ministries for Democratic Institutions as well as that for Public Safety.
Firstly, as the ICC wrote earlier this month, activists connected to a formerly designated foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) engaged in a coordinated effort to prevent award-winning pro-peace Iran analyst and former Georgetown professor Trita Parsi from testifying before the Canadian Parliament. This not only included emails and other communications to members of the committee from noted MEK affiliates and figures such as Shahram Golestaneh (head of Iran Democratic Association, a noted MEK front in Canada), but also a massive Twitter campaign targeting Canadian politicians.
It should be noted that numerous outlets have uncovered the MEK's ability to engage in coordinated campaigns using thousands of fake accounts to manipulate social media platforms, and the effort to disinvite Dr. Parsi seems to follow these patterns. We also note that the MEK is noted as being funded extensively by foreign governments, especially Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, the committee and the chair Anita Vandenbeld decided to succumb to this pressure and disinvited Dr. Parsi less than 24 hours before his testimony. Our efforts to gain an understanding of the thinking of the committee on this have not been answered to date. Since then, it has become clear that foreign-funded organizations and fake social media accounts were an integral part of the campaign to push Dr. Parsi out, as shown below.
Secondly, it has come to light recently that the Trump administration has provided millions of dollars in funding to an organization which has attacked pro-peace American activists, journalists, independent analysts and human rights advocates critical of Trump’s policy in the Middle East. This foreign funded project was also involved in the campaign to influence the witness list in the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on International Human Rights and, most recently, the disinvitation of Mr. Parsi from the committee. Also concerning for us is that this organization, Iran Disinformation Project, may have also amplified attacks on Canadian activists and civil society organizations.
Lastly, over the past week, The Intercept uncovered the fact that a Twitter account with more than 30,000 followers and whose works were published in mainstream outlets, including 61 times in Forbes alone, was in reality a fake identity run by MEK operatives in Albania. Further, this account was followed, amplified, and was amplified by Canadian politicians and influential commentators on foreign policy, including sitting Senator Linda Frum and influential commentator Terry Glavin. This fake account was also leading the smear campaign against Trita Parsi and was an important part of getting Dr. Parsi disinvited from the House of Commons subcommittee.
What we are therefore seeing is the uncovering of a network of operatives, many of whom are connected to the violent cult MEK, funded by and located in foreign countries, including Saudi Arabia, engaging in sophisticated and coordinated disinformation campaigns to shape Canadian politics in advance of the coming federal election by attacking Canadian civil society. Most concerningly, not only are these campaigns extremely adept at manipulating social media; they are actually influencing the real life agenda in Canada's Parliament.
We therefore ask you to immediately investigate the above facts as well as any related issues and campaigns conducted by such individuals. The integrity of Canada's democratic institutions must be vigorously defended against such brazen attacks by foreign governments and terrorist organizations.
We are eagerly awaiting your reply to these urgent and serious concerns.
Iranian Canadian Congress