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Haglund confirms Iranian Embassy role in report being pulled

Defence Minister Carl Haglund on Monday confirmed that a research report on Iran was removed from the National Defence University’s website for review after the school was contacted about the work by the Iranian embassy.

Alan Salehzadehin Iran's Domestic and Foreign Policies -tutkimus (MPKK) Iranin sisä- ja ulkopolitiikasta. Tutkimus kuvattu 28. lokakuuta 2013.
Alan Salehzadeh's Finnish National Defence University report "Iran's Domestic and Foreign Policies". Photo October 28, 2013. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The Rector of the Finnish National Defence University, Veijo Taipalus, met with Defence Minister Haglund on Monday to report on the removal of the research paper from the university's website.

According to Haglund, contact by the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki was the impetus for the university to decide to revaluate the research report. Haglund added that it is a matter of interpretation whether or not Iran brought pressure to bear on the university.

"It is good that Iran itself doesn't feel this was a matter of pressure. On the other hand, the fact that the ambassador himself demanded a meeting with the rector shows that this is an important issue for Iran," Haglund told Yle.

"The rector is responsible for what kind of papers are produced and it is also the rector's responsibility if there is a desire to make a re-evaluation of whether the paper is on solid scientific ground," said Haglund.

According to Haglund, the rector has tried to follow recommendations by the research ethics council, according to which if a work is suspected of being offensive, a reaction is required, regardless of who makes the complaint.

"It is, of course, good that the rector wants to play it safe, but it is undeniable that the picture created is not good, and it is certain that the university should give consideration to how such matters are handled in future," Defence Minister Haglund stated.

The National Defence University will be carrying out a new review of the report on Iran by Alan Salehzadeh this week to determine that it fulfils established scientific norms.

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