For nearly fifteen years, I have been subject to a politically-motivated disinformation campaign because of my sharp critique of the hawkish policies that could see Iran follow the same fate Iraq began to suffer in the mid-2000s.
In 2008, after I went back to Iran after a few years of living abroad, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps arrested me and kept me for eight consecutive months in solitary confinement, with no access to books or newspapers or even anyone to talk, so as to force me to confess that I was an agent of Israel, only because I had visited Israel as a freelance journalist and a peace activist to counter the drum of war at the time against Iran.
Almost two years later, in an unfair trial, I was spared a death penalty (precisely over two words which appeared in my blog), but was graced with a grotesque 19.5 year prison sentence, for my writings, reformist activism, and advocacy of free expression online.
It is ironic that my long-offline blog archive, which was once maliciously exploited by the Iranian regime to ruin six years of my life is now, after a decade, used by some opponents of the Iranian regime to vindictively demolish the rest of my life, both personally and professionally —after all the pain and trauma that my family and I experienced and still endure, a time when I’m finally getting back on my feet.
Ever since I was released in 2014, I have restarted thinking and writing about how new media and social platforms are impacting our societies. It was the quality of my output which earned me the chance to continue research on the future of news and algorithms, as well as information disorder (‘fake news’) at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and the MIT Media Lab.
Nearly forty years after the 1979 revolution, most of the critics of the current Iranian system want the same thing: a secular, open, just, peaceful, and prosperous state which protects minorities, allows dissent, and tolerates difference. I, too, share that vision. However like the majority of Iranians, I believe it should come from within, or it would not be sustainable. Alas, this has made all Iranian reformers like me an easy target equally by hardliners in Iran and hawks in the US.