While the U.S. State Department announced Malley’s leave weeks ago, further details on the reasons behind it were not released.
U.S. envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, says he has been on leave for multiple weeks as his government security clearance is investigated.
A State Department spokesperson told reporters during a briefing several weeks ago that Malley was on leave, but a confirmation for the reason behind his absence was not released.
As State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said Thursday, Malley’s role is being filled by Abram Paley while Malley is out. Paley is serving as “special envoy for Iran and leading the department’s work in this area,” Miller said in a statement. He did not give further details.
As Axios reported, Malley said he was told his “security clearance is under review.”
Malley told the outlet he was not “provided any further information,” and said he expected the “investigation to be resolved favorably and soon.”
Malley said he would remain on leave while the probe continues.
Malley was appointed to the post of special envoy to Iran in January 2021. He was closely involved in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and worked under former President Bill Clinton in that administration’s unsuccessful efforts to form a successful peace deal between the leadership of the Palestinians and Israel in 2000.
In December 2016 the U.S. State Department implemented its Continuous Evaluation (CE) program, which applies to all Executive Branch personnel who have access to classified information. The program, which was also applied to other governmental agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense, aims to have ongoing reviews and not just “snapshots,” as the Department of State says on its website.
It was unclear what the exact reasons for the review of Malley’s clearance were, or the circumstances behind it and why it sparked a requirement that the official be placed on leave.
Malley has led the current White House efforts to revive the Iran deal, to impede Iran’s efforts to obtain fissile material and make a nuclear weapon.
Malley did not elaborate on when his leave began or when he believed it would end.
Politico reported that Malley has been a controversial figure in some circles within the Biden administration and in Washington after expressing his willingness to engage with some top U.S. adversaries.
In 2008, Malley resigned from his role as an informal adviser within the presidential campaign for Barack Obama after it was discovered that he held meetings with members of Hamas during his time with the International Crisis Group.
On Oct. 8, 1997 the U.S. State Department declared the militant group Hamas a foreign terrorist organization.
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