Friday, July 12, 2024
HomeIran News NowIran Opposition & ResistanceHamid Noury's Return to Iran Marks the End of A Failed Project

Hamid Noury’s Return to Iran Marks the End of A Failed Project

sweden hamid noury court iranian resistance

Four-minute read

Hamid Noury, a former prison guard sentenced to life imprisonment in Sweden for his involvement in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, arrived at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport on the evening of Saturday, June 15, after being exchanged for two Swedish citizens held hostage by Iran’s regime. Upon his arrival, he appeared on state television alongside Kazem Gharibabadi, the head of the Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, and declared, “I have a brief message for the hypocrites. Hypocrites, miserable, fugitive, pitiful refugees, where are you now? You are in Albania, displaced and pitiful. But I am Hamid Noury; I am in Iran and Tehran, and I am with my family during Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Ghadir. You see, it was possible. You said even God couldn’t free Hamid Noury. You see, it was possible.”

Hypocrites is the pejorative term inducted by the regime’s former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini to defame the People’s Mojahedin Organization (MEK/PMOI) inside Iran.

These words were not just the outpouring of personal malice and gloating of a convicted killer. They were part of a regime-dictated script aimed at impressing domestic audiences and counterbalancing the severe blows it had suffered from the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its core element, the PMOI, over the past nine years over a project that inflicted the highest authorities in Tehran.

The Hamid Noury project began long before he embarked on a mission to Sweden. Prior to the 2017 presidential elections, Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, sought to place an entirely obedient figure in the executive branch to counter growing societal unrest. Years of power struggles and four different presidencies had taken a toll on Khamenei’s regime, making him desperate for consolidated control.

A pawn for a keystone

When Ebrahim Raisi’s name was proposed as a presidential candidate, the Iranian Resistance launched a comprehensive campaign, both domestically and internationally, to expose Raisi’s role in the 1988 massacre. The slogan “No to the charlatan, no to the executioner” gained widespread traction in Iran. Even Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent president and Raisi’s rival, adopted this slogan in his campaign, boldly declaring before thousands of spectators and millions of television viewers, “People will not choose those who have only known how to execute and imprison for 38 years.”

The defeat of Khamenei’s favored candidate, despite vote-rigging and electoral fraud in the 2017 elections, was a significant blow to the Supreme Leader’s survival and replacement strategy. Nevertheless, Khamenei ousted a serious rival, Sadegh Larijani, from the Judiciary and replaced him with Ebrahim Raisi, charting another course.

In November 2019, Hamid Noury was dispatched to Sweden. Upon prior notice to Swedish authorities, he was immediately arrested by Swedish police on suspicion of participating in the massacre of thousands of political prisoners.

Simultaneously, an undercover agent of the clerical regime named Iraj Mesdaghi, widely presented by Western and Persian-speaking media as a human rights activist, positioned himself at the forefront of the campaign to prosecute Noury. In the initial stages of Noury’s legal pursuit, plaintiffs introduced by Mesdaghi were unable to secure Noury’s prosecution due to the quality of their testimonies. Mesdaghi also launched vicious attacks against the PMOI and its leadership, increasing media activity in an attempt to pressure the Iranian Resistance into either staying away from the Noury case or collaborating with him.

Through this complex conspiracy, the regime aimed to exonerate Hamid Noury and discredit the international campaign for justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre. However, at the request of Swedish prosecutors, the NCRI decided to actively contribute to the trial, introducing dozens of witnesses and plaintiffs. During Noury’s trial, the Iranian Resistance provided extensive evidence, including a complete model of the Gohardasht Prison and a large museum exhibit in Ashraf 3, Albania.

The Swedish judiciary even held several sessions in Durres, Albania, to hear the testimonies of seven PMOI members who were unable to travel to Sweden due to legal reasons. After nine months, 92 sessions, 34 plaintiffs, 26 witnesses, and thousands of hours of protests by PMOI supporters outside the court, Hamid Noury was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. The regime’s propaganda efforts, political pressures, hiring of former government officials as his Swedish defense team, and even an appeal process could not save Hamid Noury from justice.

However, Hamid Noury’s peculiar conduct in court, where he mocked the judge, prosecutors, and the plaintiffs’ team while openly declaring loyalty to the Iranian regime, underscored his lack of trust in his own defense team. It seemed he pinned his hopes on Tehran’s strategy of hostage-taking and exchanges for his release, showing reverence only towards the regime’s representative who was a constant presence in the courtroom.

Tides turned

The day after Noury’s conviction, many media outlets headlined the documentation of the highest officials of the Iranian regime’s involvement in the 1988 massacre, setting a precedent for the prosecution of other regime officials. The court did not just prosecute Hamid Noury; Ebrahim Raisi’s name became more synonymous with the massacre and killings than any other figure.

International media dubbed Raisi “The Butcher of Tehran,” forcing him to cancel several international trips for fear of arrest and prosecution. Ebrahim Raisi was even more despised abroad than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, notorious for denying the Holocaust.

In the 2021 presidential elections, Khamenei had to eliminate former close allies and high-ranking officials like Ali Larijani to appoint Raisi. Despite all the vote rigging and pressure tactics to increase turnout, this election saw the largest public boycott in the regime’s history, with blank votes ranking second nationwide, exposing the regime’s illegitimacy to the world.

Prior to Raisi’s death in a helicopter accident and before the regime launched a propaganda campaign to glorify him, numerous officials in Iran mocked Raisi for his illiteracy and incompetence, describing his policies and the economy under his administration as the worst in Iran’s history. Raisi’s administration was extremely costly for Khamenei, with the only thriving industries being proxy wars in the region and the taking of foreign hostages, which his Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, touted as “diplomatic achievements.”

The message of a criminal set free

The Swedish government also paid a heavy price for handing over Hamid Noury. It undermined the democratic principle of separation of powers and the credibility of its judiciary’s orders, prioritizing political interests and damaging its reputation. However, it simultaneously proved two very important things:

First, it showed that recent media attacks in France and Sweden against the PMOI, under the guise of uncovering the use of “child soldiers,” were not merely a 30-year-old archive-based propaganda effort. It proved once more that no government or media attacks the PMOI without having stakes connected to Iran.

Additionally, the hasty outburst of Hamid Noury in Tehran, amplified by state media, transcended mere signaling to the regime’s forces of their continued immunity against the Iranian Resistance’s pursuit of justice. It vividly illustrated to Iranians within and beyond the nation’s borders that this regime harbors only one true adversary—a foe that seeks genuine justice through the complete dismantling of the entire regime.