Iran’s Islamic dictatorship vehemently denied on Thursday accusations by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe that Tehran had sent “spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump.”
Reports indicate that the DNI and FBI have reason to believe official Iranian government agents are responsible for sending mass emails to Democrats in various states claiming to be from an all-male interest group known as the “Proud Boys,” which mainstream media outlets in the United States have identified as participating in some violent skirmishes throughout the 2020 election cycle. The emails read in part, “you will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you.”
Proud Boys leaders denied any involvement in sending the emails and demanded that those who sent them face justice.
Following the revelation on Wednesday by Ratcliffe that American officials had evidence that both Iran and Russia were attempting to destabilizing the 2020 presidential election, Iranian diplomats went on the offensive, branding accusations against Tehran “delusional.” Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran – as America and Iran do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, Switzerland acts as an intermediary – to lodge a complaint.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2020
“The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects the repetitive claims and the fabricated, amateurish and deceitful reports from the U.S. regime’s officials, stressing once again that it makes no difference to Tehran which of the two candidates would reach the White House,” Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday.
“The US regime and that country’s intelligence and security services, which have a long record of interference and creating chaos in the elections of other countries and are also imprisoned in their delusional and deceitful world, are raising a groundless claim ahead of the elections in that country in order to carry out their undemocratic project and predefined scenario by pinning the blame on the others,” he accused. “It is not unlikely that masterminds of such childish scenarios are seeking to distract the attention and public opinion and foment suspicious provocations ahead of the elections.”
“Behave like a normal state,” Khatibzadeh scolded.
Alireza Miryousefi, the spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, branded the accusation “malign and dangerous.”
“Unlike the U.S., Iran does not interfere in other countries’ elections. The world has been witnessing the U.S.’s own desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections at the highest level,” Miryousefi said on Twitter. “Iran has no interest in interfering in the US election and no preference for the outcome. The U.S. must end its malign and dangerous accusations against Iran.”
CBS News published the contents on Wednesday of emails reportedly sent to American voters registered Democrat from an email address identified as “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“We are in possession of all your information (email, address, telephone… everything),” the emails read. “You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you.”
“I would take this seriously if I were you,” the email concluded.
The ADL's Jonathan Greenblatt demanded Trump apologize for "Proud Boys," but refused to call Joe Biden out for comparing Trump to Goebbels. https://t.co/FQxXKC2mvC
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) October 1, 2020
According to Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Alaska, and Arizona reported receiving the messages.
The international chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, denied that his group had anything to do with the emails in remarks to ABC News.
“It definitely wasn’t us,” Tarrio said. “We’d never do that, and I hope that this person does a long time in prison for doing it, ’cause they did intimidate voters.”
CBS News noted that, for several copies of the emails it obtained, the sender rerouted the messages to appear to come from, among other places, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with which Iran has increasingly troubled relations. By Wednesday night, Ratcliffe stated that American authorities believed Iran was to blame for a series of “spoofed” emails. Ratcliffe also said that Iran and Russia had obtained copies of voter rolls, which would make it possible to know which registered voters were Democrats.
“We would like to alert the public that we have identified that two foreign actors, Iran and Russia, have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our elections. First, we have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran, and separately by Russia,” Ratcliffe said.
“We have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” Ratcliffe said, without specifically naming the “Proud Boys” messages. “Additionally, Iran is distributing other content to include a video that implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots, even from overseas.”
The director of national intelligence concluded that Iran and Russia were attempting to “cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy.”