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

Around 8 p.m., after having endured several long hours of waiting (and after the family had essentially lost hope that Hanif would be released), Hanif called us and informed us of his release. He told us that he was calling from the police station in Maydan-i Nilufar (the same place where he was arrested) and that he would take a taxi to join us. After he arrived, he told us that they had also lost hope regarding their release, but that around 7 p.m. [the authorities] had told [them] to gather their belongings so they could be released. He said they blindfolded the three of them, placed them in a [minivan] and drove them around the streets of Tehran for about an hour.

It was around 8 p.m. when the car finally stopped in front of Maydan-i Nilufar and they ordered [him] to take off his blindfold and get out. [He] knew that Derayati and Qurayshi had no money with them, so as [he] was leaving [he] handed each of them 5,000 toman so they could pay for taxis. Then [he] immediately called [us] and drove over with the taxi. Later [he] realized that they had used the same methods with the other two. They were dropped off in front of the Amaken office on Motahari Street and taken home by Qurayshi’s family (who had been anxiously anticipating and waiting for the release of their son). Unfortunately, this was the way they were treated by the authorities – even during their release!

Below is a description provided by Hanif regarding the interrogations and conditions of imprisonment:

The interrogations began as soon as he entered the prison. He was blindfolded and forced to face the wall. During the first question, he was asked to provide a list of his immoral acts. In response, Hanif requested information regarding his charge. The interrogator abruptly ordered him to answer the question before [there was any discussion regarding the charges]. Hanif answered that he had not engaged in any immoral acts, at which point the interrogator beat him and repeated the same question. Once he realized that he wasn’t getting anywhere, the interrogator indicated that according to Derayati’s confessions [Hanif] was responsible for administering the Rooydad site and that [he] should defend his actions. [Hanif] denied this and indicated that he actually worked for Yas-i No newspaper and was responsible for running its website. He also mentioned that from time to time the Rooydad site experienced [technical] problems and they would contact him by telephone, at which point he would contact Mr. Derayati and they would work to solve the problem. The interrogation lasted three hours. But half an hour later the interrogation continues and again focuses on Derayati’s links to Hanif. This lasts another half an hour. After the interrogation they take Hanif to his cell. In the evening Mr. Mehdipour, the successor to the District 9 (Airport) Prosecutor’s Office, summons [Hanif] and charges him with “attempts against the national security via the Rooydad site.” This charge was based on the confessions of Mr. Derayati. Hanif was presented with a temporary detention order, which he signed without objection. During the next five days he was repeatedly interrogated regarding immoral acts, illicit relations, etc., and was asked questions delving into the most private details of his family life. After that he was no longer blindfolded and forced to face the wall. He was directly confronted with his interrogator and the questions mainly focused on political issues (i.e., politicians, newspapers, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the Islamic Republic Mujahedin Organization, etc.). They wanted Hanif to write down information regarding certain individuals. They also asked him to write down whatever he knew about me.

[They asked Hanif to provide all sorts of information] ranging from what I do at home, what I say, what I read and whom I meet – to [describing] my activities outside the home with the Journalists Union, newspapers, and the Islamic Participation Front. [They also asked about] my relations with Mr. Khatami, Musavi-Khu’iniha, etc. Because they were unable to find anything noteworthy, they returned to [questioning regarding] Hanif’s activities and writings for newspapers. Ultimately, one of his writings for Yas-i No became the basis of his charges. After 47 days, Mr. Mehdipour charged Hanif (along with eight others who had been taken to the prosecutor’s office) with attempts against the national security of the Islamic Republic via the administration and management of the unlawful Rooydad website,” and “the publication of lies in order to disturb the public mind in connection with the printing of articles in newspapers.” Hanif was instructed to prepare his defense and explain his actions in court within one week. After the indictment the eight detainees were boarded onto a [minibus], blindfolded and returned to prison. [But right before heading out] someone sprayed the car with tear gas and closed the door. [Hanif and the others] began to cough and make noise [inside the car]. After a while the door was opened and they [were allowed to escape]. The incident was witnessed by several individuals who issued complaints.

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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