A major gathering of Iranian dissidents in Albania opposed to the theocratic regime in Tehran this weekend has been abruptly called off owing to a terror threat, organizers said.
U.S. lawmakers and former government officials were set to be among those addressing the two-day “Free Iran World Summit” starting Saturday.
The event, orchestrated by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its associate group, the exiled People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), was meant to draw attention to the plight of opposition protesters inside Iran and highlight what it calls the Iranian regime’s hostile domestic and foreign policies.
The theme of the gathering was to be: “Iran on the Brink of Change — Resistance Key to Victory.”
The Iranian regime has long denounced the MEK, which has called for the overthrow of the government and has provided embarrassing scoops of Tehran’s secret nuclear and military activities over the years. A top Iranian diplomat was convicted of participating in a 2018 thwarted plot to a previous gathering of the group in Paris.
The organization, now headquartered near the Albanian capital of Tirana, said the summit had been “postponed until further notice upon recommendations by the Albanian government, for security reasons, and due to terrorist threats and conspiracies,” The Associated Press reported Saturday.
The U.S. Embassy in Albania also put out a statement recommending American citizens avoid the event because of a “potential threat.”
The Biden administration, which has been pursuing a revival of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, has largely steered clear of the dissident group, but the NCRI had ties to senior members of the Trump administration, including onetime National Security Adviser John R. Bolton and former Secretary of State Mike Pence.
Organizers said that nearly three dozen U.S. lawmakers from both parties were slated to address this year’s summit in Albania, including Democratic Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the chamber’s leadership.
• David R. Sands can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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