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dated: 2022-11-19 19:21:32 .
Canada’s spy agency is actively investigating several “credible” death threats made by Iran against individuals in Canada, CBC News has learned.
Canada’s security intelligence agency said it is aware that state actors in the Islamic Republic of Iran are monitoring and intimidating people in Canada to silence those who speak out against the regime.
For the past two months, anti-government protesters have taken to the streets of Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
“CSIS is actively investigating multiple threats to life posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran based on credible information,” CSIS spokesman Eric Balsam said in a press statement to CBC News.
“Ultimately, this hostile activity and foreign interference undermines the security of Canada and Canadians and our democratic values and sovereignty.”
It’s the first time the agency has confirmed multiple ongoing investigations into what it calls “lethal threats against Canadians and Canadian residents” coming from Iran.
The details were shared with CBC News after Britain’s intelligence chief revealed Wednesday that the U.K. faces a major security threat from Iran, Russia and China — countries the U.K. accuses of using violence and intimidation abroad to advance its interests.
A picture provided to AFP outside Iran on September 21 shows Iranian protesters taking to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody. (AFP/Getty Images)
In the last two months, demonstrators have taken to the streets of Iran to protest against the regime. Mass protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the so-called morality police and died in custody after allegedly wearing a hijab improperly.
According to the Human Rights Activists news agency, an organization of Iranian activists, at least 341 people – including teenagers and children – have been killed and more than 15,800 arrested in connection with the Iranian protests. Experts believe the real numbers could be much higher given the regime’s crackdown against publishing real-time information online.
MI5, the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence agency, has said that Iranian intelligence services have targeted dissidents abroad, who are “perceived as enemies of the regime”.
MI5 Director General Ken McCallum gives a speech at Thames House in central London on November 16. (Yui Mok/The Associated Press)
Ken McCallum, director general of MI5, said Iran was responsible for at least 10 potential threats to kidnap or kill Britons or UK residents this year.
“Iran foresees a direct threat to the UK from its aggressive intelligence agencies,” McCallum said.
“The Foreign Secretary made it clear to the Iranian regime last week that the UK will not tolerate intimidation or threats to the lives of journalists or anyone else living in the UK.”
The Canadian government last year condemned Iran’s “pattern of intimidation and foreign interference” after US authorities raised allegations of an alleged Iranian conspiracy kidnapped five people and brought them to Iran – including three people from Canada.
In an interview that will be broadcast by CBC on Sunday Rosemary Barton liveUS Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said threats from Iran persist.
“We know that there are active conspiracies against Americans, former and current officials. And we said it with absolute determination, that regardless of any differences we may have among Americans, we have one goal to stand together in defense of every American — officially, unofficially, in uniform, out of uniform,” said the anchor and head of the CBC- I correspond to Rosemary Barton.
“And of course we stand with Canada, Britain and others who face the same threat and this is just one of many examples of Iran’s activities that violate international norms and for which they must be held accountable.”
The office of the Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino, announced that it was “soberly informed” of the incidents.
“We are using all the means at our disposal and will continue to work closely with our allies and partners to respond to such illegal and unacceptable behavior by authoritarian states,” Mendicino’s spokesman Alexander Cohen said in a statement.
The federal government announced earlier this week that it has “officially designated the Islamic Republic of Iran as a regime that engages in terrorism and systematic and severe human rights abuses,” making thousands of members of the regime ineligible for entry into Canada, Cohen said.
Relatives of the victims of Flight 752 say they were targets
Family members in Canada who criticized the Iranian government after losing loved ones in the 2020 downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 also told RCMP they were threatened and intimidated by Tehran. Flight 752 was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shortly after takeoff on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 passengers and crew.
CSIS said in its 2021 annual report that it continues to “investigate credible reports” involving “threat actors associated with proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
A WATCH | The families of the victims of Flight 752 report threats:
Families of victims of Flight 752 report threats
Relatives of Canadians and permanent residents who died in the downing of Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752 say they have received an increasing number of threats believed to be originating from Iran and Canada.
Dennis Horak, Canada’s former charge d’affaires in Iran, said kidnapping and killing people abroad has been part of the Iranian regime’s agenda for decades. He said the recent threats were a reminder of the nature of the regime.
“This is a regime that does not play by international rules and never has,” said Horak, who worked at the Canadian embassy in Tehran from 2009 until it was closed in 2012.
From the late 1980s to the 1990s, many Iranian dissidents disappeared or were killed abroad.
Iranian agents killed Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan and their translator Nouri Dehkord in a restaurant in Berlin. The Germans followed the case and in 1997 issued international arrest warrants for high-ranking representatives of the Iranian regime.
Horak said it was rare for MI5 to disclose the number of attempts, which could signal the agency’s concern.
“The British may feel that the Iranians have nothing to lose in terms of their international borders at the moment, so they may step up and go after some of the people who are making the most noise about what’s going on in the country,” he said.
CSIS said that while it cannot comment on specific cases, it urges people in Canada who believe they are being targeted by Iran to contact the RCMP. The agency said it is working with domestic and international partners and the Iranian-Canadian community.
The Iranian diaspora in Canada continues to organize its own protests; the next one is planned for this weekend.
The intelligence agency is investigating “credible” Iranian death threats against people in Canada
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