The brother of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has cast doubt on a recent, wild claim by Iranian state TV that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei lived in a storage container for the first few years of his leadership.
Mohammad Hashemi, a former head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, made the remarks to IranWatch on Friday. It came after a program on the IRIB's Ofogh network suggested that Ali Khamenei, who took up the role in 1989 in the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq war, had lived in a container into the early 1990s.
"I do not remember the Leadership living in a Conex at all," Hashemi said. "I can not confirm such a thing at all. It is true that the situation in the country was not good at that time, but I cannot accept that the Leadership lived in a container."
Unlikely stories about the Supreme Leader's meager lifestyle are often touted by officials and state media, which could not happen without Khamenei's blessing. On April Fool's Day this year, his chief of staff claimed Khamenei spent most of his time with "the poor and needy" and had "below average" living standards.
Perhaps the most outlandish origin story came in 2011, when Ayatollah Mohammad Saeedi, the Friday Imam of Mashhad at the time, claimed that the infant Khamenei cried out "Ya Ali" in the womb as he was about to be born.