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Witness Statement: Ensafali Hedayat

5. I’d like to give you an example of this. In 1994 I was employed by the newspaper Salaam. We had received two letters indicating that secret prisons existed in the woods near Lavizan. A while later an older gentleman came to the newspaper office and alleged that his private lands in Lavizan had been confiscated and secret prisons had been built on them. (I never personally met this individual.) The old man told us that despite the fact that he wasn’t a supporter of the Shah, he was never reimbursed for his lands. He wanted our help and support.

6. Salaam’s editor requested that I investigate the validity of the claims made by the old man (and the ones made in the two letters). I took the letters and went to the wooded area near Lavizan along with a personal friend who was close to 20 years old. My friend was unaware of the reason for my expedition.

7. Lavizan is a heavily wooded and hilly area covered with tall pine trees. Anyone who enters the wooded area and proceeds beyond 20 meters disappears [into the thick brush]. The Revolutionary Guards and the Army have large factories, bases and depots in this area. The wooded area in Lavizan is situated between two highways – Abbaspour and Baba’i. This area is a part of Greater Tehran..

8. My friend and I entered Lavizan. We were about 100 meters away from the area that I had been ordered to investigate when suddenly we were confronted by four or five uniformed individuals. There was nothing unusual about their behavior. As they approached us I noticed that they were wearing military boots. One of them asked “Who are you?” I said I am a reporter. One of them suddenly placed his military knife under my throat and another positioned a knife behind my neck. I could not move either forward or backward. The other two [soldiers] held my friend. They then started punching and kicking us with their military boots. They beat us for more than an hour. All of a sudden, one of them cut a 4 centimeter piece of my scalp (behind the right corner of my head) and told me that it will serve as a reminder that I should never again come around these parts to obtain information [for my news stories]. After we’d received a good beating, they let me go and I ran away. But they kept my friend and raped him. I went to the closest residence and called the police. I waited for the police more than an hour, but they never came. I gave up and returned to my home. One or two hours later I found out that my friend is alive and has returned to his own home. He swore that, along with the assistance of his friends, he would make them pay [for what they did to him.] [Soon after the attack] I visited the Salaam office and described the way which I was attacked [to my coworkers.] As a result of the beatings and psychological trauma I sustained, I became ill and bed-ridden for a month.

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Travel Restrictions