Heroes’ Welcome planned for expelled Iranian diplomats

Iran’s embassy staff departed Ottawa at 10 o’clock this morning on a charter flight to Tehran. The Iranian government has planned an airport welcome reception for the diplomats upon their arrival.

Among those leaving is Hamid Mohammadi, Iran’s cultural counselor, and his son, Ehsan, who was president of the Iranian Cultural Association of Carleton University.

Hamid Mohammadi’s house at 1284 Prince of Wales has been put up for sale. A friend of the diplomat was removing bags of garbage from the property this morning.

But not all embassy material and diplomats’ belongings are leaving Canada. Some have been shipped to the Iranian Cultural Centre at 2 Robinson Avenue in Ottawa. This centre functioned as a satellite wing of the Iranian embassy. It was run by Hamid Mohammadi, and embassy events were held there. A phone call to the cultural centre could be answered by someone at the official Iranian embassy on Metcalfe Street.

Official land records, however, tell a different story. In 1998, the property was bought for $1.6 million from the National Capital Commission by “Fatima Cultural Activities, Inc.” — an entity that doesn’t appear to exist anywhere other than on documents relating to this property.

In land registration documents, Zaki Muscati is listed as the president of Fatima Cultural Activities, and Mahmood Khedmatgozar as its secretary and treasurer.

Then, in 2001, the property’s deed was transferred from Fatima Cultural Activities to the Mobin Foundation — which also doesn’t appear to have existed prior to acquiring the property. Official land registry documents list Mahmood Khedmatgozar as president of the Mobin Foundation and Lida Madarshahian as director.

Despite the forcible closure of the Iranian embassy, the cultural centre will be permitted to remain open, according to DFAIT. In a statement to Maclean’s, Rick Roth, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said:

“We are concerned and are looking into the Iranian Cultural Centre. This centre will be watched very closely, and any links to the Iranian regime will be cut off.”