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Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Iran's Response to the Internet

In almost every instance documented by IHRDC, individuals were subjected to arbitrary arrests in contravention of Article 9 of the ICCPR and Article 32 of the Iranian Constitution, both of which require law enforcement officers to inform the accused of the reason for the arrest and any charges against him or her.361 Fereshteh Ghazi and Hanif Mazrui were summoned to a prosecutor’s office under the pretext of being asked some questions and then held for several weeks.362 Shahram Rafizadeh and Omid Memarian were arrested at their work places without warrants or even explanations. Rafizadeh was coaxed out for what was to be a short meeting and then forced into a car.363 When a co-worker tried to write down the license plate number of the car, an officer confiscated his pad and told him that this was a legal arrest. Mojtaba Saminejad was held for 88 days, released and charged only after his second arrest a few days later.364

When law enforcement agents produced arrest warrants, they did so in a substantively and/or procedurally defective manner. For example, Roozbeh Mirebrahimi was presented with a folded piece of scrap paper with illegible print.365 Kianoosh Sanjari was presented with a warrant accusing him of threatening national security and signed by Prosecutor Mortazavi, but he was never given a copy and was only allowed to see and read it once.366

Moreover, cyber-journalists and bloggers who were arrested were not afforded the presumption of innocence required by Article 37 of the Constitution of Iran and Article 14(2) of the ICCPR. The accused has the right to be presumed innocent until the evidence proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.367 Yet, witness interviews conducted by IHRDC, news reports and accounts by the bloggers and journalists testifying in front of the Presidential Commission indicate that interrogators presumed detainees were guilty of charges and only sought to force confessions.368

The bloggers and journalists were not provided with prompt access to legal assistance of their own choosing as required under Article 14(3) of the ICCPR. At times, this was done by holding suspects without charge and claiming that until they were officially charged, they did not have rights to counsel. For example, six weeks after Sina Motalebi’s arrest, his attorney, Shirzad Haydari Shahbaz, presented Judge Zafarghandi a signed representation form. The Judge rejected it on the grounds that because Motalebi’s case was still in the preliminary stages of investigation, no attorney could take his case.369 Fereshteh Ghazi’s first opportunity to hire a lawyer was after she posted bail—forty days after her arrest.370

In violation of international law, Article 32 of the Iran Constitution and Article 24 and 129 of the CCP, many of the journalists and bloggers were not told why they were arrested.371 None were informed at the time of arrest, and many were held for days, sometimes weeks, without learning of the charges against them. The interrogators demanded confessions to a list of crimes; however, these demands were not formal charges, and the detainees were left with little understanding of the official accusations they faced.372

[361]ICCPR, supra note 24, art. 9(2); IRANIAN CONST., supra note 48, art. 32.
[362]Mazrui letter, supra note 252.
[363]Witness Statement of Rafizadeh, supra note 240, ¶¶ 24-27.
[364]See Price Paid for Blogging, supra note 90. Seifzadeh posting, supra note 299.
[365]Interview with Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, supra note 75.
[366]Interview with Kianoosh Sanjari, supra note 304.
[368]Interview with Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, supra note 75.
[369]I Do Not Wish to Speak, supra note 236.
[370]Short Legal News: Seifzadeh Has Accepted to Represent Fereshteh Ghazi, supra note 279.
[371]See generally Witness Statement of Sigarchi, supra note 59; Interview with Kianoosh Sanjari, supra note 304; Interview with Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, supra note 75.

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Tagged as:

Free Speech, Right to Protest, Cyber Journalism, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Free Association, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination