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Witness Statement: Ensafali Hedayat

56. During my time in solitary confinement, I met with my family three times. Each time two police officers were present during our conversations. The first and second time they took me back to our home around midnight. The third time they summoned three or four members of my family to one of the public office buildings of the intelligence office of East Azerbaijan. The environment was particularly oppressive because we were not allowed to talk about [anything of substance]. During the third meeting my mother became extremely upset and complained: “What is the point of meeting if we can’t talk about anything? It’s better to just end things here.” So we terminated things prematurely. This meeting was set up in response to the written request of the court judge, who was in turn responding to my complaints regarding the extension of my period of detention for interrogation purposes. He had allowed me permission to return home and meet with my family for 6 hours.

57. After 74 days, they transferred me to a solitary cell in the financial fraud ward of the central prison in Tabriz. I felt less stress and psychological pressure in the central prison. I felt a deep calm and was able to sleep for two days. Several days later they transferred me to the prison’s infirmary because my bleeding worsened. From then on several reformists and family members would come and visit me at night when everyone else was asleep. We would talk for a short while.

58. Since my first arrest by the police was illegal and I had been severely tortured both physically and psychologically, I decided (while I was in my solitary cell) to file a suit against the Law Enforcement Forces and the people who had kept me in solitary confinement for about a month. But I decided not to complain against the intelligence office of East Azerbaijan, and instead write indirectly about their unlawful activities. I did not wish to incite all the security and intelligence forces against me. On the other hand, the intelligence forces are much stronger than the police – if I complain against both I may suffer worst treatment next time around. My predictions came true. After all signs of abuse disappeared from my body and they released me after I posted bail, I wrote an open letter to the then-president and described the torture that I had sustained. In this letter I also made a small reference to my watch which was broken at the intelligence office. Six months later I was again arrested by the provincial intelligence office and spent more than 70 days in solitary confinement. They asked me why I had spoken of the watch and I verbally answered their questions. (Remember that the written questions alone added up to 512!) But they also asked me many verbal questions which were not recorded in any document. After my first release from solitary confinement I prepared two complaints against the police and officials responsible for my torture (in addition to the open letter I had sent to Mr. Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, the then-President of Iran). I referenced one of them in a visit to the military prosecutor’s office (responsible for prosecuting members of the armed forces), but they never initiated legal proceedings and those responsible for torture escaped prosecution. I submitted the second complaint to the general courts for prosecution in case the guilty police officers attempted to bypass responsibility in military court by arguing that they were not on duty (nor were they wearing their uniforms) during the Tabriz University incident. To date nothing has happened on this front.

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Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Travel Restrictions