Former Iranian Agent Arrested In Canada

Former Iranian agent arrested in Canada
'Lack Of Credibility'; Gave false name when he arrived in Vancouver

Stewart Bell
National Post
Published: Friday, December 11, 2009

Canadian immigration authorities have arrested a former member of Iran's state security apparatus who arrived in Vancouver under a false name.

The Immigration and Refugee Board said in a ruling released yesterday the man had been a member of SAVAK and was complicit in crimes against humanity.

SAVAK was a sec urity agency that spied on, tortured and murdered opponents of the Shah who ruled Iran until he was toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

While the case concerns Iran's suppression of political opposition 30 years ago, the current regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been accused of committing similar abuses.

Amnesty International yesterday urged Iran to allow United Nations experts to investigate the brutal crackdown on opposition protests over the alleged vote rigging that resulted in Ahmadinejad's re-election.

“The Iranian leadership must ensure that the many allegations of torture, including rape, unlawful killings and other abuses are fully and independently investigated,” the rights group said in a statement.

According to the IRB decision, on July 13, an Iranian man landed at Vancouver International Airport, gave a false name and was detained by the Canada Border Service Agency. During an interview the next day, he said he had joined SAVAK in 1974 and had been paid to observe “anti-regime behavior” but that he was imprisoned following the revolution until he escaped to Canada this year.

Ten days later, he again admitted he had been a member of SAVAK but revealed his real name and that he had been living for the past 20 years in Sweden, where he is a citizen.

During an IRB hearing in August, he changed his story again, denying he had been a SAVAK member and claiming he had made up the story because he was drunk.

But the IRB ruled his denial was a “self-serving attempt to avoid a deportation order, and that his explanation of having fabricated his SAVAK membership lacks credibility.”

His “lack of credibility creates considerable doubt that his involvement was as minimal as he claimed, but there is a lack of other evidence to contradict his claims,” the board wrote.

“At the very least, by his own admission he joined SAVAK voluntarily, remained in its employ for years, shared the organization's purpose of defending the Shah's rule, and knew something of its violent tactics to suppress opposition,” the IRB wrote.

The man's name was removed from the IRB decision before it was publicly released, which may indicate he has since filed a claim for refugee status.