By the Apadana Chronicle Editorial Board
A propagandist for Iran’s Islamofascist regime waged a Twitter attack on a prominent Iranian-American journalist, photographer, human rights activist, and former political prisoner.
Sina Toossi, who functions as a “research associate” at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) criticized Ahmad Batebi on Twitter, mockingly calling him a “self-described opposition activist and democracy seeker” who is “endearing to Saudi officials.” Toossi’s attack was in reaction to Batebi congratulating Princess Reema bint Bandar on her appointment as the new ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the US. Batebi had also tweeted a flyer for an upcoming rally in opposition to NIAC, which is the Iranian regime’s de facto lobby in the US.
Ahmad Batebi was arrested by the Iranian regime’s security forces during the 1999 student uprising in Tehran. He was tried in closed-door proceedings, found guilty and sentenced to death by the regime’s judiciary. His sentence was later commuted to 15 years following domestic and international outcry. Batebi endured severe torture and maltreatment during detainment that resulted in poor physical and mental health. While on temporarily release from prison to receive medical attention, he fled Iran for Iraq and later to the US, where he sought and was granted political asylum. Batebi was designated as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International after his arrival in the US. His photo holding up a shirt splattered with the blood of a fellow protester, which appeared on the cover of the July 7, 1999 issue of The Economist magazine, became an icon for the Iranian youth’s opposition to the theocratic dictatorship.
The 1999 student protests were the first massive and widespread uprising of the Iranian people since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Approximately 1500 people were arrested in the course of what is considered as one of the most violent anti-government insurrections in Iranian history. To this day, the fate and whereabouts of many students remain a mystery.
Toossi is notoriously known for his antagonism and slander of secular, democratic movement activists on social media, particularly followers of Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi. His attack on Batebi was especially abhorrent since it occurred on the 20th anniversary of student protests. Many Twitter users – mainly Iranians – commented under Toossi’s tweet in Batebi’s defense. Toossi’s justification for attacking Batebi was that the latter was a Republican and a supporter of President Trump. NIAC members and affiliates have been targeting Iranian dissidents since the election of President Trump, labeling them and opponents of NIAC in general as “neocons” and “warmongers.”