TIRANA, Aug. 4 – An Iranian father and daughter have traded accusations against each other over Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e-Khalq, MEK, whom Albania has offered accommodation under a deal with the United States but whose members official Iran has banned as terrorist group.
Mostafa Mohammedi, a Canada-based Iranian citizen, claims his 38-year-old daughter is being held hostage by MEK, the “Peoples’ Mujahedin of Iran,” but his daughter denies claims and has filed a lawsuit against him.
Somayeh Mohammadi is one of the 3,000 mujahedeen who have been accommodated in a camp outside Durres, Albania’s second largest city, as part of United States efforts to find them new homes outside of Iraq where they were stationed at a U.S-backed camp until late 2016.
While in Albania seeking to meet his daughter whom he hasn’t seen in more than a decade, Mostafa Mohammedi is asking Albanian authorities to free his 38-year old daughter from MEK, which he says is holding her hostage.
His daughter has responded undertaking legal action against him over alleged persecution, accusing her father as an undercover agent of the Iranian regime and says that she joined and is staying with MEK of her own free will for two decades now.
Mostafa, who holds Canadian citizenship, says he moved to Canada in 1994 to seek political asylum. The Iranian father claims MEK ‘kidnapped’ his daughter from Canada in 1997 when she was only 17, convincing him to allow her for a two-week trip to Iraq, but never came back. He says he hasn’t met her since 2005.
“We believe and we have testimony from former mujahedeen who have left the extremist organization and live in Tirana that our daughter lives under conditions of torture and inhuman treatment by the MEK jihadists,” says the Iranian-Canadian in his letter to Albanian Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj.
His appeal to the Albanian authorities is “think with your heart and understand the pain that a mother and father suffer when they see their daughter being held hostage by a violent and extremist group.”
The Iranian father says he has filed a lawsuit with Albanian authorities over alleged MEK kidnapping but his daughter has responded by initiating legal action over alleged persecution.
‘Father is undercover agent,’ daughter claims
In a letter published on Albanian media, Somayeh Mohammadi claims her father is a undercover agent of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and that the real reason he is in Albania is to undertake undercover operations against MEK, which the Iranian government considers a terrorist organization for about four decades now.
Somayeh says she voluntarily left Canada in 1998 like many Iranians to join MEK seeking freedom and democracy for Iran.
She claims her father surprisingly told Canadian media she was being held hostage by MEK after meeting her at the Ashraf camp in Iraq in 2002, 2003 and 2004. “He created online propaganda blogs allegedly belonging to me and put other pressure to force me to surrender and collaborate with the Iranian authorities,” she says in her letter to Albanian authorities.
Somayeh says she has published her whole story in a book available in Persian and English unveiling efforts by Mostafa Mohammedi to abuse her, and claims that her father had a role as an undercover Iranian agent in the Ashraf and Liberty camp killings in Iraq.
“The presence of Mostafa Mohammad in Albania is very troubling for me. I am not concerned about myself, but the security of my friends in Albania. His presence shows that the Iranian regime is seeking to engage in other heinous plotting against us in Albania,” she says in her letter to the Albanian Interior Minister, asking him to ban her father from staying in Albania.
In another interview with local Albanian media, the Iranian-Canadian father claims that the letter signed by his daughter and published on Albanian media was written by Mujahedeen leaders who don’t want her to joint her family.
“I am not an Iranian agent. I am a Canadian citizen and parent who wants to free his daughter from the kidnapping of the Iranian jihadist group,” he says.
MEK in Albania
Albania’s decision to accommodate 3,000 MEK members in the past few years has angered official Tehran who has banned them from Iran since 1981.
Mujahedin e Khalq members are opponents of Iran’s regime. Following the Islamic revolution of 1979, MEK supported Saddam Hussein in the 1980s war between Iraq and Iran.
MEK had been on the list of terrorist organizations for several years by the United States until it was finally removed from the list in 2012 after the dissident group supported the U.S in military operations in the Middle East and in its fight against terrorism.
Relations between Albania and Iran date back to the 19th and 20th century when several Albanian Renaissance poets where inspired by Persian culture and Bektashism, an ultra-liberal mystical Muslim sect with roots in Sufism and Shia Islam that is also present in Albania, to promote Albanian independence.
Iran is represented in Albania with its own embassy while the Saadi Shirazi cultural foundation has been present in Albania since the early 1990s promoting ties between Albania and Iran.