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Durham University provided “cover” for American spying on Iran, says US embassy cable

February 9th, 2011

Durham University was offered, and may have received, nearly $300,000 from the US State Department in exchange for providing “political cover” to Americans spying on Iran, according to a cable sent by the US embassy in London to Washington D.C., and leaked to WikiLeaks. Here’s an edited article from the university’s newspaper The Palatinate.

by Daniel Johnson and Jack Battersby

A recently released Wikileaks cable suggests that Durham University has been involved with the U.S. State Department in gathering information on Iran, in return for substantial secret funding.

The cable suggests that the University was offered and may have accepted close to $300,000 from the State Department for running a series of seminars “under the auspices of Durham University’s School of Governmental Affairs”. The cable dates from April 2008 and emphasises the usefulness of Durham’s ties with high ranking Iranian officials as “political cover” for the projects.

Originally posted on Friday evening as part of the Telegraph’s ongoing release of U.S Embassy Cables, it has since been removed from their website. Current members of the School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA) have been named in the cable.

According to the cable, sourced from the US Embassy in London, the seminars were used as a platform for offering “US and USG (U.S Government) observers a useful look inside Iranian politics at a grassroots level”.

The document alleges that Durham has “networks within Iranian academia and unofficial policy circles,” including one academic who is linked to the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps), a branch of Iran’s military founded to prevent internal dissidence and uprising. In November 2007, the academic then became a spokesman for the Iranian National Security Council.

It is believed that the University has held a number workshops and seminars with the dual purpose of bringing over reform-minded Iranian students, as well as government officials.

The cable states:

“Durham University’s demonstrated access to academic and civil institutions, reinforced by [name removed by Palatinate]‘s apparently successful creation of political cover with IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran] authorities for Iranian participants, gives this proposal the strongest prospects of broad, meaningful Iranian participation given the restrictive current political conditions in Iran.”

The allegations raise serious questions about the conduct of several senior academics and staff within Durham university. Any Iranian students travelling to Durham for the seminars are unlikely to have been aware of how they were funded.

It remains university policy to strongly advise students and academics against all travel to Iran.

Carolyn Fowler, Durham University Registrar said:

“The University has been made aware that a confidential document which details academic funding applications made by the University, or by individuals acting on the University’s behalf, has been leaked on the internet. Durham University has established processes for the management of academic income and receives funding from a broad range of research and education partners whilst remaining true to the principles of independent academic discovery.”

Email news@palatinate.org.uk if you have any information regarding the case.

Short URL: https://www.ianfraser.org/?p=3430

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1 Comment for “Durham University provided “cover” for American spying on Iran, says US embassy cable”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rupert Bumfrey, Christopher Davidson, Ian Fraser, Sharjah Book Fair, Ian Fraser and others. Ian Fraser said: #WikiLeaks: Durham University provided “cover” for US spying on Iran http://bit.ly/f7FMqZ #Cablegate […]

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