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Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

11. Two circumstances led to my coming to blows with the government. On August 26, 2004, I decided to write on the controversial topic of the 1988 massacre in Iran. I had adequate information about a specific person from Gilan, who was the deputy of Massoud Rajavi, leader of the Mujahidin-e Khalq and I wrote an article about him.

12. The second situation was an event that occurred beyond my control. I did only one interview with RadioFarda under my real name and that was about the student demonstration in Rasht. The rest of my interviews were done using my pseudonym. On August 27, 2004, which was a Friday, I did an interview with RadioFarda as “Kambiz Karimi” regarding the laborer’s demonstration. At the time, RadioFarda broadcast from Prague until midnight Tehran time which was 4pm EST. After 4pm EST, it was broadcast from Washington D.C. RadioFarda employees made some sort of mistake, because at midnight when the news was rebroadcasting from D.C. it was announced that an interview with Kambiz Karimi regarding the laborer’s demonstration in Rasht was to air. But they mistakenly broadcasted my old interview regarding the student movement in 2003, using my real name. I think the Ministry of Intelligence compared these two interviews together, and used high tech equipment to decipher the distorted voice, and concluded that “Kambiz Karimi” is the same person as Arash Sigarchi.

13. That Friday I put the 1988 massacre article on my blog. On Saturday, August 28, 2004 at 11:30 am, I was in the provincial office when someone called me and told me to “bring [my] lazy ass” to the Intelligence prison. It was clear to me from his tone of voice what kind of situation I was walking into. Of course at this point I didn’t know about the RadioFarda broadcast and thought the summons was about the article I had put up on my blog. I immediately called a few of my friends with whom I had discussed the possibility of getting arrested, and informed them of the situation. My mother then called me to see what was happening. I told her that I had been called and summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence prison. She sounded nervous and informed me that some officers had been at our house. I told her I would return home as soon as I coordinated with Mohammad Kazim Shokouhi-Rad, the general manager of the paper, so that he could prepare bail and provide my legal defense.

14. Apparently, while I had been at the provincial office that morning, four officers from the Ministry of Intelligence and a fifth, who was a judge, raided our house and turned it inside out. They took everything with them, including my writings, computers and books. I didn’t know their names as they didn’t introduce themselves, but they showed my mother a warrant, which was all legal and by the book.

15. At 12:30 p.m. I went to the prison. It was a small prison at the center of the city with a few wards. It was more of a detention center than a prison. It didn’t have the intricacies of a prison. For instance, upon entry to a prison, a prisoner’s is usually registered, photographed and fingerprinted. There are also different sections inside a prison. But this Intelligence detention center was not like that. It was a short hallway with cells on either side. It was the same place where they held our monthly interrogations, or “Q and A’s.”

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Tagged as:

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