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Iranian press review: Ahmadinejad claims officials will escape to private island if public revolts

Meanwhile, the foreign minister's leaked interview stirs more controversy, and the government rewards crypto mining bounty hunters
Former president Ahmadinejad did not clarify and provide any evidence on where the alleged island was located (AFP/file photo)

Officials buy island to escape uprising: Ahmadinejad

Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed government officials had bought an island to escape to if the public moved to overthrow the country's rulers.

"They have bought an island to escape to if the nation boils with anger," Ahmadinejad claimed during a meeting with his supporters. 

Ahmadinejad did not clarify or provide any evidence on where the alleged island was located or who had purchased it. 

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His comments also come as Iran's June presidential election edges closer, with Ahmadinejad increasing his political profile by travelling to provinces and meeting with his supporters in Tehran. 

In a recent meeting, Ahmadinejad claimed that candidates from across the political spectrum are actively pushing people away from participating in Iran's political system. 

"One bloc [the conservatives] planned to win the elections with a low turnout and put the blame of the low turnout on the pandemic," he said, referring to analyses foreseeing a low turnout for Iran's upcoming presidential election due to widespread public dissatisfaction.

"Another bloc [the reformists] has no means to win. That's why they have returned to negotiations [on the nuclear programme]. But this won't bear fruit immediately, and they are planning to postpone the elections [on the excuse of the pandemic] until they can change the situation for their own benefits," Ahmadinejad added.

Responding to Ahmadinejad's warnings, former media advisor Abdolreza Davari told Etemad that his comments were based on the belief that Iran's theocracy would collapse. 

Zarif leaked tape economist speaks out

An outspoken economist featured in a leaked audio clip with Iran's foreign minister described Iran's intelligence services as "incompetent" for failing to find the source of the leak. 

Saeed Leylaz, a well-known analyst who served four years in prison following the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, refused to address the leak when asked about it during an interview with academics from the Imam Sadiq University in Tehran. 

"I have promised not to talk on this incident...[but] I'm interested to see if the country's intelligence services has what it takes to find this person, or like Natanz, reveal the person's name after everything exploded," said Leylaz, referring to an attack that damaged Iran's Natanz nuclear power plant earlier this month. 

"Although we can't expect much from an intelligence that is only capable of monitoring Leylaz's phone calls."

The leaked call with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has dominated Iran's political news since its release. Zarif can be heard complaining about Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in January last year in a US drone attack, meddling in Iranian diplomacy. 

Iran offers rewards for information on Bitcoin miners 

Iran's power generation and distribution company Tavanir has offered up to 2 billion Iranian rials ($47,500) for information on illegal cryptocurrency miners. 

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Over the last year, Iran has seen a boom in cryptocurrency miners as the rial continues to lose its value. 

Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, an official at Tavanir, told Tasnim news agency that the government had given 7 billion Iranian rials ($166,000) to individuals who have assisted authorities in finding the mining centres. 

Following January's spike in electricity consumption and blackouts in big cities, Tehran has cracked down on non-licensed crypto-mining and shut down 2,400 mining centres, according to Tasnim. 

Iran's central bank has also warned that Iran saw money leave the country at record levels because of cryptocurrencies. 

No data is available on the exact amount of capital outflow from Iran towards cryptocurrency, but a 2018 report put the figure at $2.5bn.

* Iranian press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.