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Media orgs’ intentionally opaque ownership structure points to the IRGC
The following report reviews the publicly available evidence of the IRGC’s ownership links to Nasim and 90 Eqtesadi, shedding light on the opaque business structure that disguises the corps’ control of these media outlets. In its previous reporting, Tehran Bureau detailed the media business activities of Atlas Media Group, the likely owner of the news portals Nasim Online and 90 Eqtesadi, among others.
According to the IRGC’s Ammariyon HQ, Nasim Online and 90 Eqtesadi are both owned by Atlas Media Group. This information was included in an article detailing the sale of Atlas Media Group to the Islamic Media Organization (IDO, controlled by Ali Khamenei. At the time, the story was covered by a minor Iranian news agency called Ensaf News, which claimed that the deal enabled the head of the IDO, Mohammad Qomi, to expand his media influence due to his aspirations to run for president.
At first glance, the records suggest Nasim Online has always belonged to the IDO. It is registered at an address on Tehran’s Vali-e Asr Street (Tehran, Enghelab Street, between Abureihan and Palestine Streets, next to Bank Saderat, Saroosh Building, No. 2.), where a host of other IDO companies are officially based.
Nasim’s website also lists a second address on Sanaei Street (Tehran, Karimkhan Zand Street, near Sanaei Street, No. 101), where a group of other IDO companies are also registered.
So who owns Nasim Online and 90 Eghtesadi? The lack of official business records and the sale to the IDO suggest that its beneficial owner is the IRGC. The corps is likely using resources from the IDO to disguise its control of the media organizations. To this end, the IRGC created Novin Rasaneh Sepehr Tasvir, the entity that holds the publishing rights to Nasim Online and 90 Eghtesadi.
The umbrella company: Novin Rasaneh Sepehr Tasvir
This media company was established December 19, 2019, according to this Rooznameh Rasmi document.
Its board members include:
Mohammad Shojaian Zanjani – Equity partner, CEO of founders board, vice chairman
Shojaian Zanjani is a long-time manager of various state-linked enterprises, and was formerly the director general of the Content Production and Distribution Division of the IRIB Cyberspace Directorate. He was the CEO of Mehr News Agency from September 2019 to April 2023 and the managing editor of the English-language Tehran Times during the same period.
Both Mehr and Tehran Times are owned by IDO. It should be noted that Fariduddin Haddad Adel, whose sister is married to SL’s son Mojtaba Khamenei, has served on the board of both Mehr and Tehran Times.
Shojaian was also a founding member and equity partner in another company, Mowj Yek Atlas Emrouz, which was founded on July 29, 2018 to provide computer services (hardware and software), and internet networks, informatics and domain hosting services, according to Rooznameh Rasmi.
Shojaian was also an equity partner and founding member of Payam Koutah Nasim, or Nasimonline (see below) in 2013, according to Rooznameh Rasmi.
Yaser Jalali- Equity partner, chairman of founding board
Both Jalalis are staunch supporters of broader internet restrictions in the country. Yaser has openly advocated for the controversial Cyberspace service regulation system act known in Iran as “Sianat,” which gives control of internet exchange to the Armed forces.
Yaser is the special assistant to the head of IDO, and sits on the board of dozens of IDO-owned companies such as Sepehr Fund (vice chairman), Bonyad Sepehr Tableegh Novin (CEO), Iran E Publications (Board Chairman), Tebyan Nour Foundation (Vice Chairman), and Pardis Sharif Soroush (Board Chairman), to name a few.
Notably, Khamenei’s nephew relative Komeil Khojasteh was the CEO of Tebyan Nour until April 2022.
Yaser Jalali was also a board member of IRIB subsidiaries Jam-e Jam Bartar Borna and Soroush Data . Jam-e Jam Bartar Borna (2019-2022) offered “management contract services and Soroush Data (2007) offers information technology services.
Jam-e Jam Bartar Borna holds the publishing rights to Vatan Emrouz Newspaper.
Fariduddin Haddad Adel, whose sister is married to SL’s son Mojtaba Khamenei, was also a board member and equity partner in Jam-e Jam Bartar Borna.
Jalali has previously been featured on Ali Khamenei’s website, Leader.ir.
Like Shojaian, Jalali is also a founding member and equity partner in Mowj Yek Atlas Emrouz (see above).
The cultural outlet: Nasim Online
Its articles of incorporation outlined its objectives as “designing databases and public and specialized libraries, as well as informational websites, providing services such as cataloging, indexing, and organizing artistic and cultural documents and records.” In July 2019, Nasim’s objectives were expanded to include “information dissemination in the fields of culture, art, Quranic sciences, and Islamic teachings.”
The “About Us” section of its website states that Nasim “examines issues from the perspective of the “Islamic Revolution discourse,” and seeks to transform the “current conditions” into what they should be, which is reminiscent of Khamenei’s language about repression.
Board member and equity changes have not been properly recorded on Rooznameh Rasmi, which only lists two documents for the organization (see above).
Nasim’s founding board members are:
Mohammad Shojaian Zanjani
Payam Koutah Nasim (Nasimonline)- Equity partner, founding board CEO
Shojaian was formerly the director general of the Content Production and Distribution Division of the IRIB Cyberspace Directorate. He was the CEO of Mehr News Agency from September 2019 to April 2023 and the managing editor of the English-language Tehran Times during the same period.
Both Mehr and Tehran Times are owned by the Islamic Development Organization (IDO) which is one of the several agencies controlled by Ali Khamenei. Members of the ayatollah’s family have been board members in the tw over the years.
Shojaian was also a founding member of a company called Mowj Yek Atlas Emrouz in 2018, which provides computer, informatics and domain hosting services, according to Rooznameh Rasmi.
He is also one of the founding members of Novin Rasaneh Sepehr Tasvir, which holds the publishing rights to Nasim Online, according to Rooznameh Rasmi.
Gholam Reza Nouri Hefzabad– Equity partner, chairman of founding board, board chairman.
discussed his views on regulating the internet in Iran. He said he had “banned any reference to Instagram” and other international social media platforms in IRIB programming, adding that presenters are now only allowed to say “follow us on social media platforms.”
Nouri has been an executive in various Supreme Leader-controlled media, including:
- Jam-e Jam Bartar Borna – Nouri was vice chairman of the founding board of this IRIB subsidiary, which was founded on June 25, 2019 and offered “management contract services for the implementation of institution projects.” Notably, Fariduddin Haddad Adel, whose sister is married to SL’s son Mojtaba Khamenei, was also a board member and equity partner in this company which was dissolved on January 17, 2022.
- Jam-e Jam Institute – Nouri represented IRIB interests and chaired the board of directors of this institute from April 23, 2021 to March 27, 2022, when he was replaced by Fariduddin Haddad Adel. Fariduddin has been a long-time board member of Jam-e Jam Institute.
- Payam Novin Jam-e Jam Saba– Nouri was Chairman of the founding board of this company, which was founded on July 18, 2018, and represented the interests of Jam-e Jam Institute. This company which was established to offer “information technology services…[and] design, establish, and implement extensive communication and telecommunications computer networks…” was dissolved on July 6, 2021.
- Soroush Data – Nouri was Board Chairman of this company and represented the interests of the IRIB retirement fund. This company, which was founded on August 6, 2007, is a subsidiary of the IRIB-owned Soroush Institute and offers information technology services.
- Bonyad Sepehr Tableegh Novin– Nouri was Vice Chairman of this company, established on September 20, 2020 to “produce and disseminate written, computer, digital, audio, visual, and multimedia products, and [offer] other cultural services,” and “designing, establishing, and implementing cultural and communication centers, systems, and regimes…,” among other things. This bonyad is owned by the IDO, which is one of the several agencies controlled by Ali Khamenei.
The economic news outlet: 90 Eqtesadi
There is no information available about 90 Eqtesadi on Rooznameh Rasmi. Its website still lists Mohammad Saeed Jabbari as its managing editor.
As an outlet specializing in economic and business news, the stated intent of “90 Eqtesadi” is to address “the problems and demands of the people … by disregarding the conventions and common considerations of other economic media,” according to its website. Its declared mandate is to monitor analyze and provide fair critiques of governmental and non-governmental organizations, movements, and agencies economic performance.
While the headlines on “90 Eghtesadi” are not very controversial, the language used in the articles clearly shows their hardline approach. For example, an item from its most viewed section titled “Fear Trafficker” promises to examine “the role of one of the enemy’s infantry soldiers in the economic war waged against the people of Iran.” In another item, the website quotes a member of the Expediency Council Ali Aqa- Mohammadi as saying that Tehran’s unemployment problem is not down to a lack of jobs, but a lack of initiative by job seekers.
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