US & Canada

Iran leader slams 'fake' BBC report on secret US contact

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to a crowd during a ceremony to mark the 27th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Khamenei called the BBC the "British government propaganda apparatus"

Iran's Supreme Leader has dismissed a BBC report revealing secret contact between late Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and US presidents before the Iranian revolution.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "Britain has always been hostile to us" and the report was "fake".

The story was based on newly declassified US government documents from the Cold War.

Mr Khamenei suggested they were forged.

The original report revealed how Ayatollah Khomeini had courted the Carter administration from exile in Paris to broker his return to Iran.

In the official Iranian narrative of the 1979 revolution, Mr Khomeini bravely defied the United States and defeated "the Great Satan" in its efforts to keep the Shah in power.

The full story

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionKhomeini's secret dialogue with 'The Great Satan'

Two Weeks in January: America's secret engagement with Khomeini

But the documents showed Khomeini assured the Carter Administration in late January 1979 that the Islamic Republic would not hold "any particular animosity" towards Americans.

It also revealed a message to the Kennedy Administration years earlier, in 1963, explaining "he was not opposed to American interests in Iran".

"Would America, which downed a civilian plane with about 300 passengers, hesitate to forge a document?" Ayatollah Khamenei said, referring to the controversial shooting down of an Iran Air plane by a US warship in 1988.

"This is the way of hostility from the British."

He was speaking at an event commemorating the 27th anniversary of Mr Khomeini's death.

In the same speech he said Iran and US aims in the region were completely opposed and that Tehran would not cooperate with the US and "evil" Britain on regional issues.

More on this story