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Witness Statement: Ensafali Hedayat

36. About 22 days later, I was summoned for an interrogation. [I entered] a small room with two chairs lined up next to each other. I took the front seat. My interrogator greeted me and placed his chair in front of me. I recognized him. He was one of the three interrogators from the Ministry of Intelligence – I had seen him several times before. The next evening I was asked to answer written questions. I answered four of them. Two or three days later I answered two more questions, and I answered another four on July 7th, which were rather aggressively worded. One of the questions asked if I would cut off contact with foreign media outlets. I said, “No.” Do we have laws in this country or not? If there is a law, I will be obligated to obey it. But if there is no law, [my agreement to cooperate with them] will be solely based on fear. Of course, they can always get the judge to issue an order that would take away my right to be active as a journalist. This was my answer to them.

37. Of course, [in one of the questions asked] my interrogator referred to an order of the Supreme National Security Council regarding restrictions on giving interviews to foreign media outlets. In response, I wrote that if there is in fact such a provision, then I will obey it.

38. [They suggested that] I change careers. I suggested that in light of my educational and 13 year professional experience, they should put me in charge of the municipality’s public relations. There was silence, and they dropped the issue.

39. It was around July 7th when my family informed me that the judge had issued an order on July 6th allowing them to meet me in person. They had gone to Room 37 at the Tabriz central prison which was administered by the East Azerbaijan intelligence office. The guard there informed them that I had been freed four days prior to their visit (on July 2nd).

40. At noon on July 9th they took me to the Judiciary. The judge refused to see me. The returned me to the Ministry of Intelligence again. On July 10th (which was a Thursday) they took me to prison and delivered me to the authorities. They transferred me to the same cell next to the “children’s” ward. The kids and teenagers came to greet me in the yard and expressed their joys and concerns upon seeing me again.

41. That same night I called home from prison. They told me that they would post bail and free me on Saturday. The judge had set bail at 300 million toman. I protested that this was too high a price for my freedom.

42. Saturday rolled around and I kept staring at the cell door. I repeatedly asked the guard for the time because they had broken my watch at the Ministry of Intelligence. (Of course they had forced me to sign a paper saying that nothing had been broken. I didn’t want to deal with another set of irrelevant questions, so I just signed the paper.)

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Travel Restrictions