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Witness Statement: Kourosh Sehati

35. But three or four days I participated in the fourth anniversary ceremony of the Forouhars. A huge scuffle broke out between the ceremony participants and Ansar-i Hizbullah forces. I was arrested again by the Ministry of Intelligence, along with my mother and two of my other friends. They released us around 2 or 3 a.m. in Karim Khan Zand Street.

36. In April 2003, I was sentenced to 6 years for attempts against national security (as part of a series of convictions in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court). They transferred me to Qasr Prison in order to apply more pressure on me. Prior to the revolution Qasr Prison was used to hold political prisoners. I was among the first political prisoners to be taken to this prison post-revolution. Branch 36 of the appellate court in Tehran affirmed the six year sentence. After that, they transferred me to the murderers and drug addicts ward in Qasr Prison. Seventy or eighty percent of the prisoners there had gone crazy because of the severe torture they had been subjected to. (For example, [some] of them would [walk around] the rest of us naked and urinate.) Scuffles broke out all the time between prisoners and drugs were easily available. The security situation there was terrible.

37. My sentence was ultimately reversed in Branch 5 of the Supreme Court and I was released from Qasr Prison in February 2004.

38. The first time I had a lawyer in court, but I didn’t hire one after that. After my first trial I came to the conclusion that having or not having a lawyer didn’t really affect the court’s ruling because lawyers don’t have access to the case files. Once Mohammad Ali Safari, a 70 year old lawyer, volunteered to defend me. He was arrested and imprisoned. I decided not to get a lawyer when I realized that retaining or not retaining a lawyer had no real bearing on the court’s decision.

39. A while later and after my release, the United Students Front staged a demonstration in June 2004 in front of the United Nations office in Tehran in support of political prisoners in Iran. They arrested several of my friends after the demonstration. I was the only member of the central committee of the United Students Front who remained free. I conducted several radio interviews. The Ministry of Information came after me but I realized this and fled. I went home. Then I hid elsewhere. After this the Ministry of Intelligence requested that I be given a ten to fifteen year sentence in prison.

40. Before that I was summoned by telephone several time by the Revolutionary Court. But I didn’t go. I told them that the Revolutionary Courts are illegal, and that I didn’t know who they were and why they wanted me to go. Their actions were illegal. They have no right to call you and expect you to go there at their beck and call. [I did this] even though I recognized the voice of the person calling to be that of Judge Haddad’s deputy, Seyyed Majidpour-Sayyef. Seyyed Majid used to threaten me via telephone, and say things like “I will order them to arrest you.” I would respond: “You have to send me a written summons.” Finally (and as I mentioned before), after years arrests, convictions, threats and hiding, I was forced to illegally flee Iran by crossing the border into Turkey in June of 2004. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Van, Turkey affirmed my application for asylum. I spent one year in Turkey and have been living in the United States for the past three years.

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Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons