Politics

Ben Affleck Is Persona Non Grata In Iran

Is Matt Damon’s mild-mannered best friend actually a covert government operative?

Cliff Owen, File / AP

WASHINGTON — Iranian state news agency Press TV published a conspiracy theory by a 9/11 truther on Wednesday positing that Ben Affleck is a covert government operative and could be hanged for war crimes because of his movie Argo, which recently won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

It’s the latest in a mounting, if not very threatening, campaign against the filmmakers of Argo for producing a movie that the Iranian government sees as a biased, stereotypical portrayal of Iranians.

Writing in Press TV, 9/11 truther and former professor Kevin Barrett quotes a “U.S. Intelligence Expert” who “believes that Argo is the propaganda project of an intelligence agency or agencies, and that its purpose is to convince the American people to go along with Israel’s plan to drag America into a war on Iran.” The intelligence expert in question is Barbara Honneger, a former Reagan administration official who published a book about the “October surprise” conspiracy theory about an alleged plot by the government to delay the release of the Americans trapped in the Iranian hostage crisis.

“Will Ben Affleck, and other covert operators working to launch a criminal war of aggression against Iran, ever be brought to justice?” Barrett writes. “Iran’s lawsuit against the makers of Argo is a good place to start.”

Earlier, Iran announced via Press TV that it was planning on suing the people behind Argo. It has hired controversial French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who is married to Venezualan terrorist “Carlos the Jackal,” currently serving a life sentence in French prison. For a time, Coutant-Peyre represented Zacarias Moussaoui. Per PressTV:

Iran cultural officials talked to an internationally-renowned French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre over filing a lawsuit against Hollywood during a meeting held in Tehran’s Palestine cinema on March 11.

The meeting was held alongside a conference titled “The Hoax of Hollywood” organized by the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

“The conference was held to unify all cultural communities in Iran against the attacks of the west, particularly Hollywood,” said the conference secretary general Mohammad Lesani.

The Argo side of the spat doesn’t appear to be taking the suit very seriously. Affleck’s lawyer declined to comment on it, as did Warner Brothers, the studio that distributed Argo.

Iran would have to prove that the movie was defamatory, a difficult task in a country where the onus is on the accuser to give proof of libel and in a situation where the movie was not marketed as a documentary but as a fictionalized account of real events.

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