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Witness Statement: Ali Afshari

64. They sat me in front of the camera and reviewed the script with me. They videotaped me four times in Prison 59, and went over the script with me 7 or 8 times before that. The purpose of these review sessions was to ensure that I would act comfortably and naturally in front of the TV camera. Occasionally I would let them know that I refused to read a certain line, at which point they would transfer to me solitary confinement and I’d have to deal with those aggressive interrogators yet again. One time I remember rejecting [their claim] that the students movement wished to overthrow the regime, and merely acknowledged that they may have unwilling and unknowingly been under the influence [of the reformists].

65. One day in May of 2001 they gave me a hair cut, shaved my face, allowed me to take a shower and gave me a change of clothes. I was then blindfolded and driven to another facility. After I arrived they removed my blindfold. I realized that I was inside the Vali Asr military base under the control of the IRGC air force (which was part of the Prison 59 complex). They sat me in front of an Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) camera. My interrogators arrived and informed me that they were going to interview me. Before the filming they promised me that they would not publicly broadcast the footage, and assured me that the previously taped sessions had not been filmed by professionals. They told me that this time a professional camera crew was present so that they could tape a better interview. I wanted to protest, but my interrogators threatened me and told me not to do anything that would force me to return to my previous condition. I couldn’t endure the torture and abuse any longer, so I sat in front of the camera and read the prepared script. I had memorized most of it. The whole thing took half an hour. The interview was highly analytical in nature, and scrutinized many of my previous activities. During the first filming session the interrogator took the place of the IRIB interviewer and the camera was focused solely on me. Later the IRIB interviewer, Mr. Fallah, interviewed me for another hour. He asked me questions and I answered them pursuant to the understanding I had with my interrogators. After that I returned to the detention facility and my solitary cell. Despite their assurances, the film was eventually broadcast on one of the TV channels. The broadcast was in fact a montage of two previous taping sessions. The broadcasting of the tape was a huge psychological blow.

66. After two and a half months I met with my family for the first time in February 2001. It happened three months after my arrest and in the presence of an interrogator in the Revolutionary Court. I had lost 25 kilograms. It was a bad visit. As soon as my family asked about my condition, the visit was terminated. These visits didn’t occur regularly. On average my family visited me once every two months. I became aware that my taped session had been broadcast during one of the family visits that occurred towards the beginning of May 2001. Overall I met with my family five times, and each visit lasted anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. One of my meetings occurred in court at the request of my interrogator. My interrogators wanted my father to convince me to confess to my wrongdoings and dissuade me from exposing the fact that they had forced me to confess.

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Secret Prisons