Parviz Sabeti

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Parviz Sabeti
SAVAK Director, counter-terrorism division
In office
August 1957 October 31, 1978
Monarch Mohammad-Reza Shah
Preceded by Lieutenant General Nasser Moghaddam
Succeeded by Brigadier General Ali Tabatabai
Civilian Adjudant to the Royal Court
In office
1969 October 31, 1978
National Security Advisor to Prime Minister
In office
November 1964 August 1978
Prime Minister Amir-Abbas Hoveyda
Personal details
Born March 25, 1936
Sangesar, Semnan, Iran
Children Pardis Sabeti

Parviz Sabeti (born March 25, 1936 Sangesar) is an Iranian lawyer, former SAVAK deputy under the regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Born in Sangesar, Semnan province, in north-central Iran, to a Bahá'í family, Sabeti received a law degree from the University of Tehran and joined the SAVAK, Iran's intelligence agency in Shah's regime, in 1957, and quickly rose to become the acting director of the SAVAK’s so-called third division—its political directorate—and later its director. [1]


He has been called one of the most powerful men in the last two decades of Pahlavi regime. [1] Historian Abbas Milani describes him as "like a character from a le Carre novel" and says that "As his fame and reputation grew, his name and face disappeared from the public domain." [1] Sabeti and his family fled Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 [2] Pardis Sabeti, a Harvard biology professor, is his daughter. [3]

Mr. Parviz Sabeti graduated from the Law School of the University of Tehran. He was initially hired as a Judge in the Ministry of Justice. Having shown a keen interest in public policy and politics he was recruited into the SAVAK, which was part of the Prime Minister's office, in 1959. This was a time when a new policy of introducing civilians into an organization staffed by primarily ex-military rank and file was introduce. Initially he worked as a political analyst in the department of internal security and very soon became the head of political analysis where he was in charge of preparing and writing daily, periodical and special reports which went ultimately via the chain of command to the Shah of Iran. [4]

Although Mr. Sabeti was philosophically against Marxism and radical Islam, he believed that arresting and prosecuting members of such groups should not be the only course of action. The cycle of actions and reactions of dissent, revolt, then crackdown would continue until the government, through substantial reforms, attempted to remove the roots of dissatisfactions and create more room for the participation of people in the political system. [4]

Impressions by the Shah towards Parviz Sabeti had changed by the late 1970 when Sabeti, as the de-facto security advisor to the Prime Minister and spokesman for the government, provided a long and impressive TV interview exposing the plots by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein against Iran, with the collusion of internal enemies of the Shah. He continued to provide two more such interviews exposing the tactics of two major opposition groups, one Communist and one Islamic-Marxist. [4]

None of this undid however the fact that he was the only civilian leader to have reached a leadership position at SAVAK, with the inevitable friction with the more hard-line, one dimensional attitude of those with a military background. One example being his differences with General Nassiri who was chief of SAVAK and deputy Prime Minister for 14 years. Nassiri who was a loyal soldier for the Shah, very often had clashes with Sabeti. [4]


  1. 1 2 3 Milani, Abbas. Eminent persians. Parviz Sabeti. Syracuse University Press, 2008.
  2. Muhammad Sahimi, Parviz Sabeti and the Murder of Political Prisoners under the Shah, PBS Frontline (May 4, 2012).
  3. Pardis Sabeti, the Rollerblading Rock Star Scientist of Harvard. The recipient of the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for natural sciences blazed a new view of how to treat infectious diseases via genetics. By Seth Mnookin. Smithsonian Magazine , December 2012
  4. 1 2 3 4 Ahmad Farasati