Insider news & Analysis in Iran

By INU Staff 

INU - As the campaign for Iran’s presidential elections heats up prior to the May 19th polls, the promotion of Hamid Baqai by former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised eyebrows across the board. Baqai was born in 1969 in the city of Hamedan, western Iran and claims to have earned a Master’s Degree in political geography.

Reports indicate he served in the Ministry of Intelligence and the Department of Managing Crisis Zones during the final years of the Iran-Iraq War that spanned to the better portion of the 1980s. He was then appointed as head of the branch focusing on Israel and Iraq in the Counterintelligence Department, serving as head of the Office of Intelligence Evaluation. In 1993 he was transferred to the Interior Ministry and has a record of also serving in different posts of various governmental institutions, including state TV and radio, Tehran’s municipality, Ministry of Science and the Cultural Heritage Organization.

On April 9th, 2011 Ahmadinejad appointed Baqai as his administrative deputy and caretaker of the presidency administration.

Baqai announced his candidacy in the 2017 presidential election back in February and described himself as an independent candidate and running on such a ticket. While Ahmadinejad had previously announced he would not support any candidate in the 2017 presidential election, he changed his position on March 19th and placed his weight behind Baqai.

Considered a controversial figure, Baqai has been the center of a long-lasting corruption scandal. Orders for his temporary detention had been extended on numerous occasions, while his lawyers complained if their defendant’s case was not politically motivated it should have been finalized long ago. One lawyer said the reason why his detention has been suspended yet again was Baqai’s complaint against the presidency of the incumbent Hassan Rouhani.

However, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency described Baqai’s theft dossier “a catastrophe far worse than the case of (oil tycoon) Babak Zanjani.”

“Baqai has invested in 10 different countries and has stolen so much money that Iranian authorities must such for a few years to just identify his assets. Returning them to Iran is an entirely different dilemma,” an Iranian official explained.

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