A U.S.-based Iranian ex-Muslim and a vocal critic of the Iranian Islamic regime was contacted by the U.S.’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), warning him of possible attacks.
In an interview by Iran International, a London-based Persian television network, Abbas Khosravi Farsani confirmed that the FBI reached out to him.
Farsani, who changed his name to Azad Farsani after getting U.S. citizenship, is a vocal critic of the Islamic regime of Iran and has published a book condemning the regime and Islam itself.
Farsani wrote a blog called Noble Whispers, where he criticized Iran under the pseudonym Azad Azadeh. He also published an online book of the same title that pointed out the immorality of the Islamic regime and its leaders.
According to the Iran Press Watch, an independent watchdog that focuses on press oppression and the Iranian Baha’i Community, Farsani made efforts to remain anonymous. However, he was tracked by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In June 2012, Farsani was arrested by the IRGC’s cyber division. During the arrest, Farsani was working on his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Isfahan and was teaching Islamic courses at the Payame Noor University.
“The agents had printouts of Farsani’s blog posts with them when they entered his residence, and they took Farsani’s laptop,” Iran Press Watch reported. He was handcuffed and was taken to the Isfahan Cyber Police headquarters, where he was interrogated.
According to Amnesty International, Farsani was arrested for “criticizing the authorities.” He was also forced to confess the charges of acting against national security by publishing lies, causing public unease, and insulting the Supreme Leader.
He was also charged with membership of an opposition group with links to Israel.
In an interview with Armin Navabi, founder, and Susanna McIntyre, CEO of Atheist Republic, Farsani confirmed that the FBI called him a few days after they aired a program called “Knowing the Personality of Muhammad.”
“It was the last program that I think [that] made them angry,” Farsani explained. In the program, Farsani and experts in law, psychology, and sociology discussed Muhammad’s personality based on what was written about him.
“It was just about a few days that I got a call from the FBI, and they asked me about the nature of the threats and why that happened,” he added.
“And I explained it to them, what I explained to you right now,” Farsani continued.
Farsani also said he was surprised by the call because it happened so fast. “When they called me, they (FBI) asked, hey, where [are] you?”Farsain responded that he was going to Dearborn in Detroit, Michigan.
“You know that Michigan has the most population of Muslim people in the U.S., and Detroit has the most population (of Muslims) in Michigan, and I was going to Dearborn, and Dearborn has the most Muslim people population in the United States,” Farsani expounded.
In a follow-up interview with the Atheist Republic News Team, Farsani said the FBI agent who called asked if he was going or had plans of going to London. “Because we got some news from officials in London, and they said that you are under threat,” Farsani recalled the FBI agent’s explanation.
“A legitimate threat, and they want to kill you wherever they find you,” the agent added.
Farsani told the FBI agent that he was safe but was worried about the guests on his show based in London.
Farsani said that the FBI made additional calls regarding his co-hosts located in London. Although the FBI did not indicate immediate dangers for them, the FBI also did not mention similar intelligence for his co-host, Farsani explained.
Farsani also explained that he is used to threats, sometimes even from individuals connected to the Iranian government. “Last month, a mullah from Iran threatened that they will kill me,” he told the A.R. News Team.
“They even had a countdown on Twitter where they counted the number of days before they kill me,” he said. “I don’t take these threats seriously,” Farsani added.
He explained that these threats usually happen in the comment section of his show. Last month, he burned an entire Quran and a couple of its pages; the comment sections were flooded with threats.
Although he is trying to handle the online threats calmly, he’s also careful with his daily routine. “When I go to work, I take different routes and go through different roads every day,” he said.
“Tomorrow, a company will come to my house and make it more secure,” he added.
Farsani remains unfettered with his mission, and he continues to release weekly content on his Youtube channel.
As of the writing of this article, the FBI has not responded to the email sent by the A.R. News Team.