Home | English | Publications | Witness Testimony | Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

9. He was right, because a few months later, as he put it, they “eliminated” me. What’s interesting is that BBC news was not amongst the listed news agencies that I was not permitted to talk to. Radio America, Radio Israel, RadioFarda, Radio Français, and a few Swedish radios were on the list. I specifically asked the interrogator about doing interviews with BBC news and he did not give a clear answer, at which point I assumed I was allowed to do so. So I only did interviews with BBC news. In addition, I made a new arrangement with my old colleague who now worked at RadioFarda. We decided that I would give interviews to RadioFarda using a pseudonym and distorting my voice. I picked the pseudonym Kambiz Karimi.

10. Throughout the summer of 2003 I continued to cover the news on my blog using my own name. In 2004, due to increased pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence, I began engaging in more and more self-censorship. I repeatedly saw cars following me with passengers who were clearly from the parallel intelligence agencies. While I attempted to spread freedom of speech, I was also very anxious because I didn’t work in Tehran. Working outside of Tehran is much more dangerous. With this in mind, I conceded to engage in marginal self-censorship. In my opinion, I was addressing the issues and balancing them out. When political issues were being censored due to added pressure, I would write boldly about non-political issues. For example, in one story we pursued a serious cultural critique of provincial officials. We would critique and challenge the officials on issues pertaining to social and recreational activities. I remember I was working on AIDS statistics that were confidential at the time. I went to the deputy minister in charge of this issue and published controversial articles. This was the first time a newspaper had announced that there were 7,000 patients infected with AIDS, over whom the government had no supervision. The topic stirred so much controversy that the Ministry of Intelligence summoned me. They reprimanded me and asked why I like to stir up trouble. I responded, “You told me not to criticize the Leader, not to criticize Rafsanjani. If I don’t write about AIDS, then I might as well report on the fluctuating price of tomatoes.” I was very outspoken during this time. In general, we were somewhat cautious in preparing reports and articles, which would only be explained as self-censorship. For example, there was a news story about the Imam Jum’ih of a city wasting millions of tomans. To avoid being shut down, we covered the issue without pointing directly to that person, writing a vague title such as “Wasting of money by officials.” In this manner, we would draw attention to the news and avoid being shut down by the government.

« 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 »
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Tagged as:

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