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Mockery of Justice: The Framing of Siamak Pourzand

1. Introduction

This report documents the abduction and trial of Siamak Pourzand, a seventy-year-old journalist who was held in a number of illegal detention facilities during President Khatami’s second term in office (2001-2005). During the reform era, the conservative clerical establishment headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continued to exercise great influence over Iranian public life through a network of agencies and institutions that operated in parallel to the official state. Mr. Pourzand was a victim of this system.

Siamak Pourzand’s case is particularly significant as it was leveraged by the conservative establishment to push back against journalists promoting the reform movement. This surprisingly well-documented case provides valuable insights into an ordeal to which many other opposition and dissident figures were also subjected. It demonstrates in compelling detail the degree to which the rule of law has been subverted in Iran by members of the clerical establishment.

In pursuing Siamak Pourzand, the conservative establishment flouted both the rules and procedures of the Iranian judicial system and international human rights standards. Mr. Pourzand was held illegally in a series of undisclosed locations and was not informed of the reasons for his arrest; he was not informed of the precise charges against him; he was denied the legal counsel of his choice; his family’s access to him was restricted; he was detained without charge longer than Iranian law permits; he was not able to challenge the lawfulness of his arrest; and he was denied access to appropriate medical care. Throughout his ordeal, the courts colluded in his mistreatment.

Siamak Pourzand’s case sheds much needed light on the parallel state run by the conservative establishment during the reform era. Mr. Pourzand’s human rights were abused for political purposes. He was vilified in Iran’s government-controlled media, imprisoned unlawfully, denied due process, denied a fair trial and forced into self-incrimination. His case is emblematic of the manner in which the conservative clerical establishment cynically undermined institutions of their own creation to maintain their influence over Iranian society, despite the clearly expressed will of the Iranian electorate for greater freedom in their daily lives.

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