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Witness Statement: Ensafali Hedayat

46. In late December 2003 a strong earthquake destroyed the city of Bam. I went to Bam as a reporter. In early January 2004, I spent 7 or 8 days in Bam providing news reports for various radio stations and magazines regarding the status of relief efforts, statistics on those injured and killed and the difficulties facing survivors of the earthquake. It was also time for me to attend the second gathering of the United Republicans of Iran in Berlin. Around the same time, I received a call from Mohammadi, the official from the intelligence of in Tabriz. He told me he wanted to see me. I told him that I was currently in Bam and that I would definitely see him upon my return to Tabriz. He didn’t say anything.

47. I went to Germany on December 18th and participated in the gathering on the United Republicans of Iran. I spent 10 days in Germany and returned to Tabriz after that. I arrived at my house in the morning. I unwound and was about to change my clothes when the phone rang. My daughter, Fatemeh, picked up the phone. They asked her if I was home or not. She said I was. I could hear their voice on the telephone – they informed their superiors that I was home. Then they received the order to “enter!” Suddenly they invaded my home. They showed me the arrest warrant which had been issued by the Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Tabriz. The warrant indicated that I was under arrest for spying for the United States. I looked at the date on the warrant. I realized that it had expired during the time I was in Bam, but the warrant had been extended for an additional 10 days. The warrant indicated that the Ministry of Intelligence had the authority to arrest me and confiscate evidence related to my crime. Three or four of the agents who had entered my home confiscated my computer, cell phone, telephone contacts, more than 50 CDs, 20 books, documents related to my work as a journalists and my passport. When they inspected my passport they noticed that I had gone to Germany. Before that they knew nothing of my trip to Germany (and my arrest had nothing to do with my journey). Yet [my trip] became the basis of a serious charge against me during my interrogations.

48. They took me to the intelligence office. There they took pictures and fingerprinted me. After registering my information they transferred me to a solitary confinement cell and blindfolded me with a piece of black cloth. The cloth was extremely filthy and my eyes began to hurt after two or three days. On the fourth day I washed the cloth. (It turned from black to a sky blue.) I realized that the pain in my eyes had been caused by the filthy blindfold.

49. After 48 hours, they took me from the solitary cell in the intelligence office of East Azerbaijan Province to the court and the judge issued extended my arrest warrant for another month pursuant to my interrogators’ request. The interrogations started on the second day. During the first 8 days my interrogators focused solely on my execution, the manner in which I was to be executed, the date of my execution and the individuals who had thus far been executed because they had been guilty of espionage. They informed me that I was charged with espionage and that the punishment for spying is execution. I could neither sleep nor eat. There was no one else in the other cells. I was completely broken as a result of the loneliness, worry, and fear regarding what would happen next. The stress prevented me from having normal bowel movements. My stomach was swollen. When I went to the bathroom I had severe bleeding, but I could not dispose of anything. I couldn’t take it any longer. I told my interrogators that my insides were swollen and I couldn’t go to the bathroom. A doctor came to see me but his eyes were blindfolded. He asked me what was wrong. I said I was extremely stressed out, my insides were swollen, I could not go to the bathroom and I suffered from bleeding. He prescribed some medication. I took the medicine and went to the bathroom about half an hour later. My sores opened up again (they were about 1.5 centimeters in width). My bleeding got worse. There was no first aid equipment but I did have access to warm water there. But when I was transferred to the central prison in Tabriz after 74 days I was forced to use ripped up pieces of clothing in order to stop my clothes from becoming blood-stained. I stayed in solitary confinement for more than two months at the central intelligence office. Despite my repeated requests, no one tended to my hygienic needs and the interrogations continued. Four and a half months later and after 23 days of a hunger strike, I was taken to a hospital in the city and operated on.

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Travel Restrictions