IRGC searches offices of Iran’s president, foreign minister over audio leak: Report

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Agents from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards searched the offices of the country’s president and foreign minister on Thursday, an exile-run news website reported, amid a political fallout over a leaked recording in which the foreign minister criticized the Guards.

Agents from the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) confiscated files from the offices of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after conducting searches on Thursday, IranWire reported.

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The IRGC agents “briefly clashed” with the two officials’ security teams while trying to enter their offices, IranWire said.

The IRGC’s intelligence arm operates parallel to, and is a rival of, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.

In a leaked recording, aired on Sunday by London-based Iran International TV station, Zarif was heard complaining about having little influence over foreign policy compared with the IRGC and its assassinated commander Qassem Soleimani.

Soleimani headed the Quds Force, the overseas arm of the IRGC, and was considered the most powerful figure in Iran after the supreme leader.

He was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq in January 2020.

The recording caused an uproar among the political class in Iran, where criticism of the IRGC and Soleimani is a red line.

Zarif, who has been on a regional tour since before the leak, said in an Instagram post on Wednesday that he “regretted” how the recording, which he described as a “confidential theoretical debate” intended to aid future administrations, turned into an “internal conflict.”

He said his “honest” comments were mischaracterized as personal criticism.

Rouhani’s website reported on Thursday that Hesamoddin Ashena, a senior advisor to the president, resigned from his post as head of the Center for Strategic Studies, a government-run think tank which organized the leaked interview with Zarif.

Also on Thursday, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, citing sources in the judiciary, that more than 15 people have been banned from leaving the country over the leak.

Read more: Top advisor to Iran’s president resigns over FM Zarif’s leaked audio