Read More Atheist Republic Iran is shaken by a scandal involving a Jewish journalist who had an interview with then-presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi. According to an article published by Iran International, Catherine Shakdam, a French-Jewish writer and commentator, “infiltrated” Iran.
The Sols Media Telegram channel circulated the story about Shakdam’s alleged espionage. The report “Writer of Ayatollah Khamenei’s Website, An Israeli Infiltrator in Media Outlets of Supreme Leader’s Office and IRGC” was circulated by supporters of former Iranian president Ahmadinejad.
In an interview with Armin Navabi, founder of Atheist Republic, and Susanna McIntyre, Atheist Republic’s CEO, Shakdam denied the allegations.
In the interview, Shakdam candidly explained that she doesn’t speak Farsi. “I’m not qualified to be a spy,” she said.
Navabi also clarified with Shakdam the backdrop of the story. You’re a U.K. citizen, who became a Muslim, went to Iran, got close to the highest official, didn’t like what you saw, you changed your mind, left Islam, and wrote an article for an Israeli publication.” Navabi narrated, with Shakdam periodically responding yes.
In 2021, Shakdam published a story in the Times of Israel about her 2017 interview with Ibrahim Raisi. Raisi was running for Iran’s president when she “ended up where few Jews were ever allowed to enter.”
Shakdam explained that she was introduced to Raisi “by one of the main propagandists of the Islamic Revolution.” Iran’s strict rules towards foreign journalists, especially female journalists, were overruled by the propagandist’s vote of confidence, Shakdam added.
“Formerly married to a Muslim hailing from Yemen, my marriage gave me a free pass to many Islamic countries,” she added. She also acknowledged that her French passport “greatly helped.”
In her article, Shakdam reminded the world and the Jewish people of Iran’s “ideology of antisemitism.” She described Iran as an “unwelcoming place for the Jewish people” and compared her visit to walking “right into the belly of the beast.”
In her interview with the Atheist Republic, Shakdam said she’s sure it’s not about what she said in her article. “Strangely, no one has even bothered discussing what is it that I have written,” she added.
Shakdam also explained that the party accusing her of being a spy “do not believe their own story.” She believes that the story is “ammunition against the opposition.”
There are many opposition groups in Iran, with Ayatollah Khamenei in the current regime. Then there are groups who support the Islamic Republic system but want to see Raisi gone, Shakdam explained.
“All these competing powers are basically using me as a munition,” she added.
“They can discredit Raisi,” accusing him of not checking who he gives an interview to,” Shakdam continued explaining. She also added that her interview with Raisi in 2017 is undermining Iran’s supposed iron-clad state secrecy.
The scandal with Shakdam’s alleged infiltration has caused several high-ranking Iranian officials to deny being in contact with her.
Quoting an “informed source,” the Tasnim News Agency, a media outlet tied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Crop (IRGC), said the “claims are journalistic fantasies .” The claims are also “untrue propaganda and political script,” the agency added.
Shakdam also disclosed during the Atheist Republic interview that she was somehow accused of “spying” for both Iran and Israel. “They were telling me you went on the BBC, and you said you were not a spy, and then President Raizi and the head of IRGC said you are not a spy,” Shakdam recounted the accusations.
“What about if you were spying on both people?” Shakdam was told.