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By Farnoush Amiri
An Iranian photojournalist speaks out against President Donald Trump's use of one of his photos in a tweet in which the president advocates a "better future" for the Iranian people.
37-year-old Yalda Moaiery, who lives in the Iranian capital Tehran, wrote in an Instagram post this week that she took a photo of a woman during public protests more than a year ago around the University of Tehran.
"It would be a great honor for me if this image were a symbol of freedom all over the world," Moaiery wrote on Tuesday. But having President Trump, "using it in a tweet in Persian without my permission, is even a great shame for me and causes deep sorrow."
Moaiery told NBC News that she has not granted or otherwise granted the White House or any other part of the US government a license to use the image. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it is not clear how the image contained in Trump's tweet was obtained.
The president tweeted on Monday in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, which overthrew the Shah and forced tens of thousands of Iranians to leave.
"40 years of corruption, 40 years of repression, 40 years of terror," tweeted the president. "The long-standing Iranian people deserve a much better future."
The photographer replied on Instagram that Trump's policy against Iran violates his people, including her own family and friends, who are "forced to live under sanctions that destroy our lives."
Their contribution in response has been widely disseminated in social media.
"People are being crushed and ruined in Iran by all their policies," the photographer said to NBC News on Tuesday in an interview on Farsi. "We have a lot of problems and many of them are due to Trump."
Part of this policy is Trump's travel ban, which limits people from seven countries, including Iran and the four Muslim majority, from accessing the United States.
Moaiery said that she and her brother had twice been denied visas for the US because of this order. Her parents, both of whom have green cards, are currently living in San Francisco.
"It was my brother's engagement, and my parents could not come here for that," Moaiery said. "The travel ban has brought a separation between our family."
The photographer, who has captured the scenes of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan over the course of her 20-year career, has now taken this iconic photo when protests over the country's economic problems erupted in late 2017. The picture has been published by major American and international media publications.
Due to shackles in the press in Iran, Moaiery retired from her photo credit until May 2018 when she received a photo prize in Iran. Previously, the photo was without a name credit in circulation.
"I could not divulge my identity for six months because I thought I might be known as a photographer who could get me into trouble," she wrote in her post. "But I came out because it's important to present the situation in Iran in a clear and transparent way."
Her answer to Trump's tweet is the first time she claims her photo in social media.
Some other international observers also criticized Trump's tweet, saying it was hard to believe he wanted the best of the Iranian people.
"The Iranians just do not see Trump's honest intentions," said Trita Parsi, author of the book, "Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy."
"They tend to believe that he is targeting Iran to weaken and destabilize the country instead of helping the Iranian people," he told NBC News.
Last year, Trump pulled the US back from the Iranian nuclear deal, a pact of the Obama era that had eased the economic sanctions imposed by the US on Iran after the 1979 revolution.
The Trump government has imposed penalties imposed by the nuclear agreement to pressure the Iranian government for its nuclear program and alleged support for terrorism in other countries.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in November "Fox News Sunday" that the US supports the Iranian people.
"We are working diligently to ensure that we support the Iranian people and focus our activities on changing the failed behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Pompeo. "That is the goal."
But Moaiery told NBC News, "Our daily lives are the hardest hit by sanctions against Iran, which has completely taken over people's lives and the ability to provide and live a quality life."