Shapoor Reporter شاپور ریپورتر

Portrait of an Iranian Traitor

Ebrahim Norouzi & Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | February 22, 2013                     

Shapoor Reporter

While Iran was in the throes of the 1979 revolution and the Shah’s fall was a foregone conclusion, many of the regime’s benefactors hurriedly fled the country. Among them was a British spy and Shah confidant named Shapoor Reporter (شاپور ریپورتر). Caught off guard by the speed of these events, Reporter’s personal files, revealing the depth of his traitorous role in Iranian history, fell into the hands of the revolutionary forces.1

Among the confiscated materials was a photo from the military trial of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh in Tehran, taken moments after the court announced its verdict of three years of solitary imprisonment for the deposed Prime Minister. Flanked by individuals who appear indifferent to his suffering, an agonized Mossadegh sulks on the bench, while a tall man in a trenchcoat stands to his left, looking directly at the camera. He is Shapoor Reporter, a foreign agent who played a critical, yet little known role in preparing the ground for the successful joint CIA-MI6 program to overthrow the Iranian leader. The photo’s handwritten inscription, likely Reporter’s own, reads “Mission accomplished”.2

Shapoor Reporter

After the coup in Iran, Eisenhower’s Vice President Richard Nixon paid a visit to the country. The above photo from December 9, 1953 shows Shapoor Reporter, notepad in hand, working as a correspondent for The Times of London which he had joined the previous June. Col. Nematollah Nassiri, who had delivered the Shah’s decree to Mossadegh on August 16, 1953, dismissing him as prime minister, stands to his right.3

Biography of Shapoor Reporter, a spy in the making
Shapoor Reporter Shapoor Reporter was born in 1920 in Tehran when his father, a high ranking British intelligence officer, lived there. Sir Ardeshirji Reporter, a Parsi Indian, had taken his unusual surname from his days working for a newspaper in India. Shapoor grew up in Iran through high school graduation, at which time he moved to England where he studied Political Science at Westminster College. Following that, Shapoor Reporter took a government post as “Special Duty attached to the Foreign Office.”

After several foreign assignments, Shapoor went to India where he started a Persian language radio broadcast to Iran and Afghanistan. In 1947, while working for MI6, he returned to Tehran as secretary to the Indian ambassador in Iran. He later began his collaboration with the CIA office in Tehran.

In October 1952, when Iran severed diplomatic relations with the British over the Anglo-Iranian Oil dispute, Shapoor Reporter joined the U.S. Department of State as an adviser to Loy Henderson, the American ambassador to Iran, a position he kept until early 1954.

Shapoor Reporter’s cooperation with the CIA is likely to have begun by mid to late 1951. A biographical file (presumably MI6) discovered in Reporter’s home stated that he was “in charge of Field Operations during the entire period which culminated in the overthrow of Moussadeq.” [sic]

Shapoor Reporter taught at the Imperial Staff College in Tehran and was an English instructor for the Shah’s wives — Queen Soraya Esfandiari in the early 1950’s, and later, Queen Farah Pahlavi.4

"Honours for the modest man who earned Britain millions" (March 21, 1973 article) In addition to the Times, Shapoor Reporter covered events for U.S. News and World Report and other publications. As an MI6 agent, his journalistic work would have surely served the propaganda interests of the British. After the 1953 coup, Shapoor was granted U.S. citizenship by the Secretary of State in recognition of his “brilliant services to the common cause”. In 1973, he was knighted for “services rendered to Britain in Iran”.5

Years later, Reporter became the main middleman between Iran and British arms merchants, acquiring missiles and tanks for the Shah’s growing arsenal of weaponry. In November 1977, it was revealed that Britain paid a $2 million bribe to Shapoor Reporter to secure the sale of the Chieftain tanks to Iran in 1971-72.6 Iran was the biggest purchaser of these tanks, later used primarily in combat during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 by the revolutionary regime.

"Friend of Shah got bribe of $2 million" Personal ambition and a love of money motivated Shapoor Reporter most. Sir Denis Wright, the British ambassador to Iran after the 1953 coup who had known Reporter for 17 years, advised caution in their dealings with him. “He can be relied on to convey accurately what is said to him”, wrote Wright in a formerly top secret memo, “but his own opinions and advice can be coloured by self-interest, particularly pecuniary.”7

“Of all the people honoured by the Queen at a Buckingham Palace investiture the other day, the one who is least known to the British public was the one who had done them the most service.”
The Daily Express on Shapoor Reporter (1973)

As long as the British MI6 documents remain classified, the full extent of Shapoor Reporter’s activities are difficult to precisely quantify. Though most relevant books and historical accounts do not even mention his name, Reporter’s role in the 1953 coup was clearly of great importance, possibly even rivalling that of CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt. “Another Persian expert”, wrote Roosevelt cryptically in his 1979 tell-all Countercoup, “participated in a key role during preparation of much of the plan”.

Shapoor Reporter spent a lifetime in the service of Britain, America and the Shah’s military dictatorship, and in doing so, served the ultimate master — himself.

The above biography is primarily sourced from the research of historian Abdollah Shahbazi (February 20, 2009), and “Curriculum Vitae of BRIGADIER Shapoor A. Reporter, D.S.O.”, an undated, presumably MI6 document.


1 The Mossadegh Era: Roots of the Iranian Revolution (1982), Sepehr Zabih
2 Shahbazi [link]
3 Shahbazi [link]
4 Zabih
5 Agence France-Presse (AFP), November 9, 1977
6 Agence France-Presse (AFP), November 9, 1977
7 The Guardian, David Leigh and Rob Evans, June 2007 [link]

According to Stephen Dorril, Shapoor Reporter “held a high rank as an MI6 agent” and “was always present when the Shah had his annual meeting with the MI6 chief, held during the winter sports season in Switzerland.” He quotes Anthony Cavendish, a British MI6 officer, that “the more competent of the MI6 representatives in Tehran soon had more influence with the Shah than the British Ambassadors.” (MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service (2000), pg. 654).


Related links:

Iran Foreign Minister’s Contrived “Interview” With Journalist / Spy Shapoor Reporter (1954)

Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s Role in the 1953 Coup in Iran Exposed

The CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt Explains “How the Mess Came About” in Iran (1980)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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