Political Science author charged: acting as unregistered agent for Iran
BROOKLYN, NY (WLNE) – Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, also known as “Lotfolah Kaveh Afrasiabi, was arrested in his Watertown, Massachusetts home on Monday, for acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Iran.
This act is in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
According to the Department of Justice, Afrasiabi lobbied U.S officials, published books and articles advancing Iranian viewpoints while employed by the Iranian Mission to the United Nations.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent-in-Charge, FBI, Boston Field Office announced the arrest and charges.
“Afrasiabi allegedly sought to influence the American public and American policymakers for the benefit of his employer, the Iranian government, by disguising propaganda as objective policy analysis and expertise,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme.
“This Office is committed to the robust enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which provides the American people the tools they need to evaluate opinions and arguments in the marketplace of ideas by requiring foreign agents to declare their paymasters. Those, like the defendant, who conceal the full extent of their work for a foreign government when the law requires disclosure will face consequences for their actions”, he continued.
“Our arrest of Kaveh Afrasiabi makes it clear that the United States is not going to allow undeclared agents of Iran to operate in our country unchecked. For more than a decade, Mr. Afrasiabi was allegedly paid, directed, and controlled by the Government of Iran to lobby U.S. government officials, including a Congressman; and to create and disseminate information favorable to the Iranian government,” stated FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Bonavolonta.
“The FBI will continue to do everything it can to uncover these hidden efforts and hold accountable those who work for our adversaries to the detriment of our national security”, he said.
According to the complaint, Afrasiabi holds a PHD, and frequently publishes written works, and appears on English-language television, often discussing foreign relation matters with Iran.
The DOJ says he had secretly been employed by the Iranian government since at least 2007.
During that time he lobbied a U.S Congressman and the U.S Department of State to advocate for policies favorable to Iran, counseled Iranian diplomats concerning U.S policy, and advocated for Iranian government views.
An example provided by the DOJ Asfrasiabi emailed Iran’s Foreign Minister and Representative to the United Nations with adive for “retaltion” for the U.S military airstrike that killed Major General Qasem Soleimani.
The charges at this time are allegations, and Afrasiabi is innocent until proven guilty.
If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.