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Witness Statement: Ensafali Hedayat

16. The second issue was that evading responsibility had in fact become a regular policy of the Islamic Republic. During the reform period, high ranking officials decided that in order to distract the public away from criticizing the actions of the regime and the Ministry of Intelligence (and prevent them from holding agencies such as the Basij and Revolutionary Guards responsible for torture and violent interrogations), it was necessary to allow people to believe in the existence of the PIA. In this way, they effectively ascribed a level of legal (or extralegal) legitimacy to the secret detention facilities and the PIA. Let me provide you with an example. Before Khatami’s government identified Saeed Emami as the main individual in charge of the Chain Murders, the Iranian public believed that the Revolutionary Guards and the Supreme Leader were responsible for these events. In discussions amongst themselves, journalists strongly suspected the Office of the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards. But in a brilliant maneuver, Dorri-Najafabadi placed responsibility [for the murders] on the Emami Gang, and freed the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards from the burden of accusations. In my estimation, this was a pre-mediated move. Saeed Emami and the Ministry of Intelligence were sacrificed in an effort to protect the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards. From the point of view of those in power, it was better to sacrifice a minister and an agency operative rather than the Supreme Leader and his allies.

17. Third, the PIA was not solely interested in opposing reformist factions within the regime. In fact, the PIA arrested a large number of bona fide reformists who opposed the regime. All of Iran’s intelligence agencies – whether controlled by reformists or conservatives – uniformly engaged in the arrest of genuine and independent reformists and opposition members who were not tied to the regime. In fact, most of the detainees held in secret prisons were individuals who were affiliated with these independent opposition groups, not those tied to the government. “Reformist” lawyers were not interested in defending these types of detainees. As long as the reformists remained unconvinced that defending a detainee or the accused could in some way benefit them, they generally shied away from getting involved on their behalf. For example, none of the reformists came to my defense during the first two or three months after my second arrest. They only got involved after they were certain that I would not confess under torture, and after charges related to my spying for the United States, Turkey and Azerbaijan were dropped without my having confessed to any of them. It was only after that that several lawyers agreed to come to my defense. This despite the fact that immediately after my detention I requested that several reformist lawyers take up my case. They refused, and instead asked for my forgiveness.

18. Fourth, I am not convinced by the theory that the PIA operate outside the control of the government. Most of the high ranking officials of Iran’s intelligence agencies know each other and make decisions in a coordinated fashion. In Iran, if one intelligence agency makes a move, other agencies either know about it or become informed later on. If they wish to expose these activities, they can. Despite this, none of the intelligence agencies in Iran exposed, attempted to expose or will ever expose the unlawful activities and secret detention facilities of other agencies.

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Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Travel Restrictions