A 2013 Reuters report on Iran’s Setad has been cited in four books and was recently used to justify more sanctions on Iran by Mike Pompeo, but a look into the report’s sources and accuracy reveal questionable journalism and a clear agenda.
'Ever since the beginning of Iran’s 1979 revolution, the United States has been leading a propaganda campaign against the country, minimizing its own harmful role in key historical events, justifying an ousted monarchal t regime, and demonizing its new political system. Frequently it is done in lighter forms, such as constant criticism of the new government or even claiming the new government is as bad as the previous one, but the methods can sometimes be so radical that the characteristics of the two systems are completely inverted.
While Reuters claims Iran is active in spreading disinformation online, the agency’s reporting on Iran shows that its own coverage is rife with disinformation. The latest example of which comes via a false report about Iran’s missile program, the rampant falsehoods in that piece have already been carefully dissected. But the coup de gras of Reuters’ quasi-anti-Iran propaganda came in 2013 in an article titled, Assets of the Ayatollah, The economic empire behind Iran’s supreme leader. Authored by Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Yeganeh Torbati, the piece represents a perfect example of the often rampant radicalism and disinformation found in reporting on Iran.
The report has already been cited in at least four published books, the most recent in 2018, including,“Iran’s Political Economy since the Revolution” by Suzanne Maloney (2015); “Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed” by Misagh Parsa (2016); “Challenging Theocracy: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics” by David Tabachnick, Toivo Koivukoski, and Herminio Meireles Teixeira (2018); and “Losing Legitimacy: The End of Khomeini’s Charismatic Shadow and Regional Security” by Clifton W. Sherrill (2018).
The chorus doesn’t stop there and is not limited to academic publishing or to the book industry. The 2013 report lays the ground for an ongoing war of words and aggression towards Iran. Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library on July 22, 2018, Secretary of State Mark Pompeo used the 2013 Reuters report to attack Iran, saying:
And not many people know this, but the Ayatollah Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion, with a B. That wealth is untaxed, it is ill-gotten, and it is used as a slush fund for the IRGC. The ayatollah fills his coffers by devouring whatever he wants. In 2013 the Setad’s agents banished an 82-year-old Baha’i woman from her apartment and confiscated the property after a long campaign of harassment. Seizing land from religious minorities and political rivals is just another day at the office for this juggernaut that has interests in everything from real estate to telecoms to ostrich farming. All of it is done with the blessing of Ayatollah Khamenei.”
The speech was enthusiastically applauded by Iran hawks in Washington.'
Read more: An Agenda Unveiled: How Reuters Joined the US Government’s Offensive Against Iran