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Witness Statement: Hassan Zarezadeh Ardeshir

Hassan Zarezadeh Ardeshir is a human rights activist and journalist who has written extensively on human rights and politics in Iran. He was a spokesperson of the United Student Front and a co-founder of the Student Committee for Defense of Political Prisoners, a student human rights organization in Iran. In this witness statement, Ardeshir describes his multiple arrests by plain clothes agents affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, and the mistreatment he suffered in unlawful detention facilities.

 

Full Name: Hassan Zarezadeh Ardeshir

Date of Birth:

Place of Birth: Tehran, Iran

Occupation: Former Student; Journalist

Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)

Date of Interview: February 15, 2008

Interviewer: Habib Rahiab

Witnesses: N/A

 

This statement was prepared pursuant to an in-person interview with Mr. Hassan Zarezadeh Ardeshir, a former student and journalist. The statement consists of 40 paragraphs and 9 pages. The interviews were conducted on February 15, 2008. The statement was approved by Mr. Zarezadeh on November 11, 2008.

 

Witness Statement

 

1. After the Chain Murders, the Ministry of Intelligence purged some intelligence officers who were implicated in the serial killings and transferred some of them to provinces other then Tehran. Some of those who were purged were recruited by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence organization, although they were not big fish.

2. After the attack on Tehran University’s dormitory in 1999, the IRGC reached the conclusion that the Ministry of Intelligence was unable to suppress the dissidents. Therefore, the IRGC deployed troops to the university campus.

3. Pursuant to the raid on the dormitory, I was arrested and was called the greatest threat to the peace and security of the country. If you look at announcement No. 5, issued by the intelligence service, VAVAK, you will find that 90% of the announcement is about me. Although I was arrested by the Intelligence Ministry's officers, the IRGC assisted and coordinated their operation with them.

4. In the second half of 1999, the conservatives had less leverage on the situation in Iran. Realizing the depth of the danger threatening them and losing control of the Ministry of Intelligence, the conservatives established the Parallel Intelligence Agency (PIA) with the approval of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The IRGC was the operational wing and the Judiciary was the legal wing of the PIA. The Law Enforcement Forces (or NAJA), however, did not have a big say in this newly established organization, even while helping them to arrest people.

5. In fact, NAJA got involved in the illegal activity of the PIA from the time the PIA needed secret locations for detaining dissidents. When the IRGC started to use Khatam base in Seoul Street and Amaken at the heart of the Tehran city as secret detention locations, NAJA got involved with the PIA.

6. Khatam is located in a residential compound where NAJA's employees live. Part of this residential compound belongs to military officers who are responsible for conducting the military’s administrative issues. Khatam prison is located inside this administrative compound.

Surveillance and Arrest

 

7. When I was arrested on May 1, 2002, I was taken to Amaken office at first and then I was transferred to Khatam base.

8. Before being arrested I was suspicious that I was under surveillance. One day I received a call from my phone company and I was told to pay them a visit at their office as there was a technical problem with my phone service. I became suspicious when I got there and tried to find out a way to escape. I was on the 13th floor of a building in Karim Khan Zand Street. There was no way for me to escape. I took the elevator down to the first floor. The moment I went to get out of the elevator, I saw some people standing right in front of me. One of the men who was standing in front of the elevator commanded me not to move and said I was under arrest. I asked for a warrant but the man commanded me again to give myself up. I protested and said I would not because I did not know them. The man advised me and said it was good for me to hand myself over, otherwise I would be handcuffed. He said, “[C]ome on, Zareh! Give yourself up respectfully; otherwise you will pay a higher price.” Then one of the men showed me a weapon. I again asked for a warrant. The man replied that the warrant was inside the car and pointed out to a white Peykan car that was parked outside on the street. He also showed me his police ID card. When we got close to the car, I asked for the arrest warrant again. The man told me that he had forgotten the warrant. I inquired about my charges. The man said that someone had filed a complaint against me and charged me with fraud and robbery. I resisted getting into the car but they forced me to get in. The moment I was in, I was immediately blindfolded.

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment