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Report: Biden's Iran envoy Rob Malley suspended for his ‘close proximity’ to non-official Iranian advisors

One Iranian news site claims there is more behind Malley’s ‘leave without pay’ than US media reports

Robert Malley, special envoy for Iran, U.S. Department of State appears before a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing to examine the JCPOA negotiations and US policy on Iran moving forward, May 25, 2022. (Photo: Rod Lamkey / CNP/Sipa USA)

Rob Malley, the top American envoy for Iranian affairs, has been suspended and placed on leave without pay starting April 21, Tehran Times first reported on Monday.

News broke out about Malley’s security clearance being revoked last week when U.S. media outlets reported that his handling of classified materials was under FBI investigation.

The official date of Malley’s suspension, however, was only revealed this week and came from a confidential source affiliated with Iran's English daily newspaper. The foreign report also suggests there is more behind the story than what the U.S. government and media are saying. 

“The collection of opinions and news published about Robert Malley's removal indicates extensive and coordinated subterfuge at the highest levels of the US government,” according to the exclusive report.

The Iranian paper noted that, as part of his mission, Malley had been in regular contact with Iranian diplomatic brokers and pundits who often appeared in the Islamic Republic’s media.

While Malley sought to advance his policies in Iran, these individuals had their own agenda. Reportedly, their “footprint in recent years can be clearly seen in Washington's diplomacy towards Tehran.”

Tehran Times suggested that, perhaps, Biden’s top diplomat “did not adhere to protective principles in his dealings with these individuals and raised some points that he was not authorized to discuss.”

The report confirmed that Malley’s suspension is an internal U.S. matter and is not in any way tied to a change of policy towards Iran.

“Malley's overly close proximity to his non-official Iranian assistants and advisers created the ground for the fall of this experienced diplomat,” it concluded.

The earliest rumors of Malley’s status first emerged on social media after he was notably absent from a confidential meeting with senators on May 16 regarding negotiations with Iran. At the time, even the senators were not informed of what was going on around the senior diplomat in charge of leading the indirect nuclear talks on behalf of the White House.

Only several weeks later Malley was sent on forced and unpaid leave. During that time, renewed nuclear talks secretly kicked off in Oman, where the U.S. was represented by Brett McGurk, a member of the National Security Council.

“The noteworthy point is that the Americans are trying to present the replacement of McGurk as a positive change and an effort to advance negotiations with Iran, hiding the Malley affair,” the Iranian outlet reported.

Tehran Times quoted an “informed source” saying that following his suspension, Malley held meetings with the head of the CIA and a national security advisor to try to “resolve his problem.”

U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken – with whom Malley would closely coordinate – has reportedly declined his request to meet.

The report noted that the 60-year-old diplomat also sought advice among a group of veteran legal-security lawyers.

In addition, the report stated that when Malley’s suspension took effect, only his work-related access was cut off in the first stage. 

In order to keep his situation confidential, Malley was still able to maintain some of his non-critical accesses which, according to the Tehran Times, included his communication with the families of American prisoners in Iran.

It is noteworthy that even after Malley’s suspension was officially announced, much has remained unclear about the circumstances and their implications.

U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mike McCaul (R-Texas) has demanded answers from the State Department. McCaul sent a letter claiming that Congress had been misled about the reason for Malley's absence, which was attributed to a family health matter. He scheduled July 11 as the deadline to receive an update on the matter.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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