Media aide to Rowhani defects after covering nuke talks

Motaghi said his ‘conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner anymore’

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A close media aide to Iranian President Hassan Rowhani defected after travelling to Switzerland to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and world powers, the journalist alleged during an interview with a London-based channel, The Telegraph reported Friday.

Iranian news agencies said Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed the public relations for Rowhani during his 2013 election campaign, quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA).

Later, Motaghi appeared in an interview with the opposition Irane Farda television saying he no longer saw any “sense” in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told.

“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations,” he said during the interview, adding: “but they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels.”

Motaghi said his “conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner anymore.”

In reaction, ISCA issued a statement denying that Motaghi was in Lausanne to report for it.

It said: “Amir Hossein Motaghi had terminated his contribution to ISCA and this news agency has not had any reporter at the nuclear talks, except for a photojournalist.”

He is also said to have been a friend of Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American reporter for the Washington Post who has been detained in Tehran, and to have campaigned privately for his release.

Meanwhile, Motaghi also expressed his opinion regarding the ongoing nuclear talks in Lausanne when he told Irane Farda that “the U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”

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