DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A controversial Iranian TV spy thriller is once again generating buzz in the Islamic Republic, drawing the ire of government officials and complaints from viewers Sunday over alleged censorship in the second season finale.
The fictional series, titled “Gando,” chronicles the exploits of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard agents — in the style of James Bond or Jason Bourne.
Hard-liners and other fans of the show are blaming the government for pulling the second season off the air prematurely, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. When uncut scenes surfaced Sunday on Aparat.com, an Iranian version of YouTube, speculation swirled on social media about possible government censorship. The clips showed that episodes aired last week had altered dialogue to replace mentions of “the president” with “an official.”
The first season grabbed headlines for depicting Iranian intelligence operatives combating an American super spy who bears a striking resemblance to Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian. Before being freed in a prisoner swap in 2016, Rezaian spent 18 months in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage that he and American officials denied.
The show, which valorizes Iran’s hard-liners and portrays Iran’s Foreign Ministry as inept, long has caused consternation among relative moderates in the government. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif railed against the second season on the the popular audio chat app Clubhouse last week, calling it a “lie from beginning to end.” When the first season aired in the summer of 2019, Zarif sent a formal letter of protest to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.