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December 27, 1953 — Washington Evening Star

The Mossadegh Project | April 26, 2022                     

Highlights of the Mossadeq Trial | CIA Memo (Nov. 1953)

After the 1953 coup, former Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was tried and finally sentenced on Dec. 22nd. After the verdict, Mossadegh said mockingly, “I thank you very much for sentencing me. The sentence has increased my historic glory. You have made the Iranian nation understand the real meaning of the constitution.”

The Washington Evening Star newspaper in Washington, DC had this reaction in their Sunday editorial.

Dr. Mossadegh’s ‘Historic Glory’

The quality of Iranian mercy was surprisingly generous in the three-year prison sentence imposed on former Premier Mossadegh after his conviction on charges of treason and rebellion. For seven weeks the weepy and talkative old politician had harangued and harassed the five-man military tribunal considering 13 counts of treasonable nature against him. In the background was a country that had been brought to the brink of political and economic collapse during 28 months of Mossadegh rule. The prosecutor before the court had asked the death penalty.

Although several of the charges against Dr. Mossadegh involved his orders and personal actions against Shah Reza Pahlevi, it was a letter from the young ruler to the tribunal that apparently had important effect in the decision to impose a relatively light sentence. [sic—Mohammad Reza Pahlavi]

Interestingly, and perhaps of some significance at this particular moment, the Shah based his appeal for mercy toward the convicted man on “the services rendered by Dr. Mossadegh during his first year as Premier in connection with nationalization of the oil industry, which is desired by the whole nation and is confirmed and supported by the monarchy itself.” A British diplomatic mission, the first in Teheran since relations between the British and Iranian governments were abruptly terminated by Dr. Mossadegh more than a year ago, arrived in the Iranian capital on the very day that sentence was passed on the former Premier. Its most important job will be to prepare the way for reopening negotiations on the oil controversy. Actually, British spokesmen recognized, before negotiations were broken off, the right of nationalization, and the deadlock really set in over disagreement on a formula for compensation. Presumably, there will be no new British effort to deny the nationalization right, and the Shah’s remark in his letter to the court may have been included as a deliberate reminder of the Iranian attitude.

As for the picturesque old doctor-politician, his punishment probably is adequate. Whatever damage he did his country, there did not at the time seem to be a purposely evil design to his behavior. Imposition of the death penalty probably would have martyrized him; exile would have left him too free for further maneuvering. The government of General Zahedi has displayed considerable firmness in dealing with internal political intrigue and has indicated good will as far as reaching some reasonable agreement on the oil dispute. [Fazlollah Zahedi] Dr. Mossadegh should be securely located for solitary contemplation of what he calls his “historic glory.” [His sentence was in fact 3 years solitary confinement]

Eisenhower - Mossadegh Cables: Complete Exchange of Messages
The Eisenhower - Mossadegh Cables: Complete Exchange of Messages


Related links:

Trial Of Mossadegh Brings Riots; 1 Dead | UPI, Nov. 12, 1953

Mossadegh Was Lucky | Times Record, December 24, 1953

Dictator Mossadegh | Washington Evening Star, July 22, 1953

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

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