Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and The 1979 Hostage Crisis - The Iran Focus Photograph Controversy

The Iran Focus Photograph Controversy

Iran Focus, one of numerous web outlets of the MKO militant group (based in Camp Ashraf, Iraq) originally claimed that they had obtained a photograph of a younger Ahmadinejad with a hostage, which was quickly published by the major Western news agencies AP, Reuters, and AFP. Publication of the photograph drew criticism because it was presented to the world without due investigation or verification.

In response to the publication Saeed Hajjarian, a reformist politician with a background in intelligence, denied that the picture is Ahmadinejad. Hajjarian told Associated Press and later ISNA that the person in the photograph is a student named Taghi Mohammadi. Associated Press and other sources reported that Mohammadi was a militant who later turned into a dissident. He was arrested for being connected to the MKO and was involved in the assassinations of President Mohammad Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar. He committed suicide in jail.

Alternatively, Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, one of the spokesmen for the hostage-taking students, identified the figure in the photo as "Ranjbaran". Asgharzadeh claims Ranjbaran was hanged for being a spy for MKO.

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