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Who is Mehdi Khalaji, and what is his connection with Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha

Mehdi Khalaji


By presenting the documents, in the following study, we will examine the veracity of Mehdi Khalaji's statements after Ms. Aleagha’s embezzlement was exposed. And also, why do Iranian users believe Mr. Khalaji is the unofficial partner of his wife, Ms. Aleagha, embezzlement, and economic corruption.









Who is Mehdi Khalaji, and what is his connection with the €6.6bn ($7.4bn) embezzlements of his ex-wife, Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha



Mehdi Khalaji is an Iranian- American citizen, who has been a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy since 2005. His articles and analysis ‎appear in outlets such as New York Times, Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, as well as various ‎scholarly journals and the encyclopedia Iranica.[1] (1)


In March 2019, Khalaji and his wife, Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha, were listed among the main suspects in the largest financial corruption case in the history of Iran. Khalaji and his wife are suspected of making contracts with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps oil and gas company, Sepanir, to bypass sanctions. They had used personal accounts, which were used to embezzle money to the United States and Canada. (2) (3) (4)


After the embezzlement case of Marjan Aleagha was exposed, Mehdi Khalaji, in a tweet, publicly stated that he was unaware of his ex-wife's financial corruption as he lacks the skills and knowledge in economics.

He also announced that he had divorced Ms. Aleagha and had never lived with her, as they both lived in two different countries. (F-1)



 

During his time in Iran, he wrote and translated pieces for multiple magazines. He also served as ‎an editor in Entekhab, an Islamic Republic-affiliated reformist newspaper. In the 2000s, he left Iran and worked as a political analyst for BBC Persian, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian-language program, and later for Radio Farda. The aforementioned platforms have a history of serving as propaganda arms for various factions of the Islamic Republic regime and are well known among the Iranian-American community.




F-1 Tweet Threads of Mehdi Khalaji
F-1 Tweet Threads of Mehdi Khalaji



Mr. Mehdi Khalaji has responded to public protests against him for his involvement in the embezzlement case of his ex-wife Marjan Aleagha as:


I have waited for months to speak my mind; if I had done it earlier, it would have been dead in the water.


Although an apology is difficult; and painful for an individual, it is also not usually practiced in a country like ours. My only possessions in this world are a few thousand volumes of books. I neither own a house nor a car. I have no savings, nor did I grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I have relied on my pen and cultural activities for my livelihood.


We were married for a very short time, we never lived under the same roof (she lives in Toronto and I in Washington), and our final divorce decree was issued some time ago. I never learned details of her economic activities, as I lack the skills and knowledge in the matter of economics. (F-1)



Marital Property


The photos of Mehdi Khalaji in Aleagha's expensive and luxurious mansion were circulated by Iranians on virtual networks, while he publicly expressed unawareness of Marjan Aleagha's business dealings and stated that, "as she lived in Toronto and I in Washington, we have never lived in the same house." (5) (F-1) (F-2)


F-2 Mehdi Jami, journalist and Mehdi Khalaji in the house of Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha




Mehdi Khalaji had posted photos of himself taken by Ahmad Batebi, a journalist and former VOA presenter, at Marjan Aleagha’s house. (F-3)


F-3 Published photo of Mehdi Khalaji in his shared house with his wife, taken by: Ahmad Batebi



In a study note published on IranWire, Shahed Alavi, the former journalist for Iran International (iranintl) and currently a journalist for Voice of America (VOA), explicitly stated: “On January 16, 2016, Ms. Marjan Aleagha purchased a $2,350,000 mansion in Washington, D.C., and moved in with her husband, Mehdi Khalaji.”

Twenty-one months later, on September 29, 2018, Marjan Aleagha sold the same house to Georgetown 1 Properties LLC for $2.054 million, with a loss of $296,000. (6)


However, the purchase of Ms. Aleagha has increased the value of this property by renovating the roof and the ventilation system of the house however, the sale came at a loss, and it will only be understandable considering who the buyer was.

Georgetown 1 Properties LLC, which bought Aleagha's house, is a shell company. It has no official address; its founder, owner, and manager is Aleagha herself. Remarkably, she seems to have chosen the name of this company, as it is very similar to a legitimate company called Georgetown Properties LLC. (7)


Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha, the former director of Cultural Heritage News Agency, registered the company on July 23, 2017, and 47 days after registering the company, she sold her house to her own company. Consequently, Mehdi Khalaji and Marjan Aleagha never left their house. Also, the buyer of this house, who was not a real estate agent registered in the United States, was a shell company[1] named Corporation Service Company that served as an intermediary for other companies to provide administrative and executive support to organizations, such as intellectual property owned by Marjan Aleagha. This shell company was previously the broker of two other shell companies owned by Ms. Aleagha." (8)





The jointly-owned company by Khalaji and Aleagha


Idea Center for Arts and Culture is a company jointly owned by Marjan Sheikholeslami Aleagha and Mehdi Khalaji.

The company was registered in Washington on July 8, 2014. Another branch of this company with the same-named subsidiary was registered in the state of Delaware on April 6, 2014, of which Mr. Khalaji has held the executive position. (9) (10) (11)


As previously stated, Georgetown 1 Properties LLC is a shell company, meaning that its founder, owner, and manager is Ms. Aleagha herself, and the name of the company is similar to a legitimate company called "Georgetown Properties LLC."

The Idea Center for Arts and Culture, LLC serves as a conduit for the activities of Marjan Aleagha's and Mehdi Khalaji's joint ventures (whose management is registered under their names). This is the same company that founded Ghalamro Magazine. (12)


 

[2]

A shell company exists only on paper and has no office and no employees, but may have a bank account, may hold passive investments, and be registered as the owner of assets.



 



Khalaji had requested negotiations and compromise with the leaders of the Islamic Republic, without considering human rights violations in Iran


Mr. Mehdi Khalaji has demanded negotiations and compromises with the leaders of the Islamic Republic without considering human rights violations in Iran. In one of his interviews, Mehdi Khalaji expresses concern about the execution of the current leaders of the Islamic Republic and states: "Do not worry about the Iranian people." and urging senior members of the Trump administration to make peace with Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei as soon as possible and win Khamenei's heart, rather than meeting and supporting Iranian opposition groups in foreign countries and viewing them as saviors of the oppressed Iranian people.

Also, in an article published by Washington Post, Mr. Khalaji called the opposition "ineffective" and urged the U.S. government to ignore them. (13) (14)


F-4 Khalaji's tweets addressing the Trump administration to reach an agreement with Khamenei






Mehdi Khalaji’s Tweet (F-4)


The best time to resolve America's problems with Iran is when the current leader is in power. There is no guarantee that Iran will behave more reasonably or be more flexible in negotiations with the West in the post-Khamenei era.


Public meetings by some U.S. officials with opposition figures convey a confusing message to Tehran. This is because the attempt to reach out to the opposition is part of a covert U.S. plan to overthrow the regime or even pave the way for war.


If the U.S. government can convince the Islamic Republic leaders; that the gains and losses on both sides will be commensurate with the extent of their withdrawal, then Iran might be willing to make a list of compromises and enter into negotiations.


In another case, Mr. Khalaji ignored the crimes committed by Khomeini and the agents at his command, such as the June 1983 executions of minors, in which Mona Mahmoudnejad and nine other Baha'i women were transferred from prison cells and hanged in front of each other for teaching their fellow children. (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (F-4)


F-5


Khalaji told Al Jazeera that, during the revolution, he was just a child, but he can still remember the day Khomeini returned from exile and recalls watching a massive crowd filling the streets of Tehran. "It was exceptional. I don't think it will be repeated." He said.

A month later, Khomeini traveled to Qom to meet Mohammad-Taghi Khalaji [1]- Mehdi Khalaji’s father- who was a close friend and a ‘revolutionary". Mehdi Khalaji also described Khomeini as “extremely kind and made me sit next to him as we ate lunch. When he was with children, he was a different person. You wouldn’t see that determined, serious face on him,” Khalaji recalled.[2] (21) (F-5)



 



Mehdi Khalaji opposes secularism and calls for religious intervention in politics

In an interview with Prince Reza Pahlavi published on the Ghalamro Magazine website, Khalaji expresses his opposition to secularism and calls for religious intervention in politics, explicitly advocating their presence in politics and highlighting the role religious leaders have played in shaping contemporary Iranian history.

Many believe that Mehdi Khalaji's anti-secular views are based on his father's teachings, as his father was a reformist-revolutionary affiliated with the Islamic Republic and held anti-secular views. (22) (23)



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