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Witness Statement: Kourosh Sehati

My First Arrest

 

11. I did not curtail my activities when I was in hiding. I continued my previous political activities and after a while launched Gozaresh-e Rooz newspaper with the help of some of my friends. We published about 40 issues of this publication. On April 10, 2000, after Khamenei’s speech and assault on the press, Gozaresh-e Rooz and several other dailies were shut down by the Press Court and we decided to convene several sessions criticizing [the government’s actions]. It was around the middle of June 2000 and I was at the newspaper office. Four armed and intimidating plainclothes agents entered the office and introduced themselves as agents of the Ministry of Intelligence. They didn’t produce an arrest warrant, but they informed me that I was under arrest and that I should go with them. They said they had a few simple questions to ask, but instead they took me straight to Evin Prison. I spent a month in solitary confinement and was denied visitation rights. The night after my arrest, Seyyed Majidpour-Sayyef (Judge Haddad’s deputy from Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court) came to Evin Prison and signed my temporary arrest warrant.

12. After 3 months of detention in Section 209 of Evin Prison (the last 2 months of which were spent in the public ward) they transferred me to the quarantine ward, which was extremely filthy. Prisoners are kept in the quarantine ward after they enter Evin Prison and before they are transferred to the public wards. The quarantine ward only has 2 restrooms, even though it housed more than 1,000 prisoners. Everyone slept in the hallways and small cells which were filled beyond capacity with prisoners. We were not allowed to wear shoes; we could only walk around in slippers. I broke my leg during the one hour daily exercise break we were given in the quarantine ward. They did not provide any medical treatment. I told them that I wanted to pay for my own treatment, but they did not allow me to do this. Instead they gave me some painkillers [and said] my legs would eventually heal by themselves. Even to this day, I suffer from [leg pain], especially during the winters. I was not allowed any visitors in the quarantine ward. I contracted scabies and became ill. After that they transferred me to rehabilitation area 3 of Evin’s general ward, which at that time was set aside for political and national security prisoners. I was [finally] allowed visitors [while detained there].

13. According to the courts, I was charged with attempts against the country’s national security and propaganda against the regime by way of membership in illegal groups (along with participating in disruptive student demonstrations). The interrogations did not follow a set schedule, but were not accompanied by beatings and violence. Khatami’s government was in power and the Ministry of Intelligence opposed the conservatives. I was usually questioned by one, two or more interrogators and was always blindfolded. Some of the questions had nothing to do with my charges, such as those concerning my personal relationships and personal opinions. During the first night of my arrest, the judge’s clerk came to explain my charges. When I slightly removed my blindfold so that I could sign the charge sheet, he slapped me hard. When I asked him why he hit me, he said, “You are right; you would have eventually seen my face in court anyway. It doesn’t matter – it was just a slap.”

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons