Rather than assassinate Iranian citizens abroad, which proved a constant irritant between Iran and host countries, the Islamic Republic has developed much more sophisticated mechanisms to control its exiled population.and even political analysts—or so I once thought. I had at least one fan while working in Copenhagen from 1988 to 2009. My fan was a bearded gentleman who showed up at all my public presentations on Iran. Regardless of the venue, season, and time of the day, this gentleman would find his way to each event and sit in the first row, dressed in the same suit, recording each word I spoke in his little notebook. The fourth time I saw the gentleman, I approached him and after elaborate exchange of Persian formalities I asked who he was. “I work in the cultural section of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he responded flatly; and down tumbled my world of vanity. His presumed devotion was less due to the power of my arguments or eloquence of speech, but evidently because he was employed to do so, and because the Islamic Republic wanted me to know that the embassy keeps an eye on Iranian scholars abroad.
Confronted by the rare opportunity to engage with someone from the Iranian Embassy, I couldn’t resist the urge to ask him a question I had thought about for years: “Sir, could you please tell me how many spies you have in Denmark”? The bearded gentleman laughed and answered: “My dear Mr. Alfoneh, we don’t need spies! Iranians show… >>>