Iranians, using #NIACLobbies4mullahs, express anger toward US-based lobby group

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Thousands of users on Twitter have been using the hashtag #NIACLobbies4mullahs to express their anger toward the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), alleging the lobbyist group does not represent their interests but rather those of the Iranian regime.

NIAC has identified itself as a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization but has faced controversy in the past over allegations it has worked closely with the Iranian regime.

“#NIAC is the most dangerous organization ever established & run by #Iran’s Islamic Regime abroad. Members of #NIAC are a bunch of fanatics & opportunists disguised as academics & intellectuals to serve the regime & protect its interests in the #US,” Babak Taghvaee tweeted using the hashtag.

“Iranians expect @TheJusticeDept to look into this hashtag: #NIACLobbies4Mullahs. If true it’s a violation of FARA act. NIAC should welcome this investigation and come clean, IF they believe they are not lobbying for the regime,” Arash Sobhani tweeted.

The council’s current president, Jamal Abdi, has blamed one account with about 1,300 followers under the handle @Irandisinfo of “orchestrating the campaign” and accused the US State Department of funding it.

The #NIACLobbies4mullahs appeared online nearly five days after a campaign under the hashtag #NoWarWithIran was launched by NIAC.

The council and its founder, Trita Parsi, have in the past attempted to sue Iranian-American bloggers and intellectuals who published pieces which challenged its status as an independent non-profit.

In 2015, two circuit judges and a senior circuit judge from the US federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia forced NIAC to pay $183,480.09 in monetary sanctions to a blogger named Hassan Daioleslam. The court decided NIAC had to reimburse the blogger for the money he had spent fighting a defamation lawsuit NIAC brought against him in 2008, which was decided in his favor and dismissed in 2012.

“That Parsi occasionally made statements reflecting a balanced, shared blame approach is not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime,” US District Judge John D. Bates wrote in his ruling summary at the time.

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