Thursday, 4:30 PM
Romney orders state agencies to boycott former Iranian presidentís visit to Harvard
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Correspondent
Governor Mitt Romney denounced Harvard University today for inviting former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to speak at the school on Sept. 10 and ordered all state agencies to boycott the visit by refusing to provide state police escorts and other service typically given to former heads of state.
"State taxpayers should not be providing special treatment to an individual who supports violent jihad and the destruction of Israel," Romney said in a written statement, calling Khatamiís visit a "disgrace" on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The governor said that the U.S. State Department listed Khatami as Iranís number one state sponsor of terrorism, saying that he oversaw the torture and murder of dissidents who spoke out for freedom and democracy.
Khatami is scheduled to speak at Harvardís John F. Kennedy School of Government at 4 p.m. on Sept. 10. Harvard did not immediately return several phone calls seeking comment.
While Romney said that the state will withhold any support for Khatamiís visit including police escorts, he noted that the federal government provides security through the U.S. State Department.
According to a biography of Khatami from the Iranian embassy posted on the Kennedy Schoolís website, he was elected the fifth President of the Islamic Republic in May 1997 when he won almost 70 percent of the popular vote. Khatami was re-elected in June 2001 for a second term, which ended in August 2005.
Currently, Khatami is the director of an organization called the Initiative for Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations. He is speaking at the Kennedy Schoolís Institute of Politics.