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Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

51. At the end of my two month imprisonment, my lawyers met with me in prison. They appealed the terms of my sentence and my case file was directed to the appeals court. During the appeal process, I was released on bail on March 20, 2005. My appeal hearing was in June and we defended my case. There were three appeal judges: the hearing Judge, Qudrat’ullah Shamikhi, the advising Judge, Isma’il Hassanzadih, and a third judge who did not sign my verdict, as he dissented with the decision. Seifzadeh did not defend me well, he got up and said “Due to the fact that Mr. Shahroudi called for the release of the bloggers and for the law to exercise leniency towards them, I request that you release my client.” When I witnessed this, I got up and defended myself. Mr. Seifzadeh spoke from 9:00-9:15 a.m. and once he was done, I got up and defended myself until 2:00 p.m. All together, we defended my case for a total of five hours. The decision of the appeals court came in November 2005. I was exonerated on the charge of ‘collaboration with a hostile government’ that carried the ten years imprisonment, as well as ‘creating confusion amongst the masses,’ which carried one year. For the charge of insulting Imam Khomeini and Supreme Leader, I received two years, and for propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran I received one year for a total of three years in prison. On January 25, 2006, I began my sentence.

52. According to Iranian law, I could appeal my case one more time before the Supreme Court. For this process, I kept Mr. Parviz Jahangir-Rad and retained Mr. Salih Nikbakht in place of the other two attorneys. On February 12, 2006, my brother who was en route to take the power of attorney papers to the Supreme Court for me died in a car accident. The next day I was given leave for ten days and received an additional seven days after that. So from the 13th of February to March 1, 2006 I was on leave. Throughout 2006, most of which I spent in prison, every two to three months I received five days of leave. During the month of September a sore appeared on the corner of my tongue. Since I had scored a few goals in the prison soccer tournament, they gave me a few days of leave, during which I checked out the sore and was diagnosed with cancer. From November 2006, I received three months of leave which counted toward the time served on my sentence. After that I received another 3 months and 2 six-month leaves which did not count as part of my sentence. Until May 18, 2008, I was on leave for treatment. Within this period, I had three months of chemotherapy, an eight hour surgery that took out half of my tongue and some of my lymph nodes, and another month of radiotherapy. I left Iran for treatment on January 10, 2008 and came to America.

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Travel Restrictions