Rutgers University professor Hooshang Amirahmadi says he’s disappointed but not surprised to learn he’s one of five Muslim-Americans apparently spied on by the National Security Agency.
The online news site Intercept reported that, for two years, Amirahmadi’s emails were being read by the NSA. That report cites files leaked by former CIA systems administrator Edward Snowden.
In addition to teaching, Amirahmadi directs the Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies and founded the American-Iranian Council. He says his “high-level” discussions with people from both sides of Iranian politics naturally might have attracted attention.
“What surprised me, really, was not that I was on the list, but that the NSA would not call me and say, ‘Hooshang, come down and we want to talk to you about A or B,’” he told NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller. “And if they had a concern, I’m sure I could have spoken to them and put them to rest.”
Amirahmadi said the NSA was apparently wasting time intercepting his emails while missing real threats.
“As they were targeting me, and reading my email, they missed ISIS in Iraq, who took over half of the country and dismantled our infrastructure, and trillions of dollars of investment is up in the air there for us,” he said.
Amirahmadi said he only found out about the reports of spying about a month ago when contacted by journalist Glenn Greenwald.
According to The New York Times, in 2007 Amirahmadi claimed in an interview that Iranian connections to terrorism are a “myth” and that “Hezbollah and Hamas are not terrorist organizations, they are defending their country and their nations.”
When asked about this, he responded, “That is very true, but I then have condemned terrorism. I have openly said that Israel is a reality, it has a right to exist, and I have said openly that Iran has no right to build bombs.”