Activists come under FBI scrutiny after Iran visit

March 11, 2019

The co-founder of Code Pink, a grassroots anti-war NGO based in the U.S., says she and a colleague have come under scrutiny by the FBI after returning from a visit to Iran. 

Media Benjamin told The Real News Network on Sunday that she and Mary Ann Wright, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, had got “called to a secondary screening.”

“Not only did Ann Wright and I get called to secondary screening, but after that we were greeted by FBI agents who had a whole dossier on us of what we did, which mostly they got from our own website, our blogs,” said Benjamin.

According to Press TV, she visited Iran at the head of a 28-member delegation last month to push for peace amid the Trump administration's stepped-up hostility towards Tehran following Washington's withdrawal from a nuclear deal. 

The activists met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during their stay.

Benjamin said FBI authorities “had a packet of information for us about the sanctions on Iran, the U.S. government policies towards Iran, the issue about registering as a foreign agent, indictment of Iranian groups to scare us away from talking to them.”

“And yes, it was not the warm welcome that we received when we went to Iran,” she said.

Benjamin slammed the U.S. for withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the subsequent imposition of “very harsh” sanctions on the Iranian nation, saying they have affected the lives of ordinary Iranians.

“We did find that although Iran produces most of its own medicines, certain medicines for diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, or diabetes, it was difficult for them to find those,” she said.

“So we found from life choices to lifesaving medicines, the sanctions have made people’s lives quite difficult.”

The activist censured “both Saudi Arabia and Israel” for attempting “to squash any coming together between the U.S. and Iran.”

“So it is a very sad history of U.S. interference, and the U.S. trying to make an Iranian government subservient to U.S. interests instead of a sovereign country.”

Margaret Flowers, another member of Code Pink delegation, echoed what Benjamin said, acknowledging that the U.S. government is not “trustworthy”.

She described Iran as “a country with such a deep history and such a mature society,” saying “what a real loss it is to people in the United States to not be able to have a cultural and academic exchange with the people of Iran.”

Kevin Zeese, the co-founder of Popular Resistance and a member of the advisory board of World Beyond War, another member of Code Pink delegation, hailed Iran’s rich civilization, saying the U.S. is “an adolescent bully to this really mature country”.

She praised Zarif for “trying to do the best, not only for Iran, but for that region, and for the United States.

“Our security is weakened if we don’t have a good relation with Iran. It’s in our interest to have a positive relationship."

Tensions intensified between Tehran and Washington last year, when President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear accord, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Iran.

Since then, the U.S. has been trying to coerce the Europeans into following its lead and withdrawing from the nuclear accord with Iran.

SP/PA

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