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Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

16. As I said before, the Ministry of Intelligence had a project to control and limit the ability of professional journalists to report the news. In order to do this, they would the professional journalists once a month, or sometimes once a week, to an office called Sitad-i Khabariyih Vizarat-i Ittila’t [News Agency of the Ministry of Intelligence]. This agency, which has an office in each province, acts as a public affairs office and was established so the general public can raise concerns over matters pertaining to the Ministry of Intelligence. In reality though, no one wants anything to do with this office; people are usually summoned there. Throughout the three years I was the Editor-in-Chief of the paper, I was summoned there over fifteen times, about once every 30 to 40 days. The first time I received a phone call from the agency summoning me, I refused to go and demanded to be sent a written summons. They then sent two officers who told me that if I didn’t leave on my own volition they would throw me into a sack and take me. From that point on, each time I was called to go I obliged. They wouldn’t say it was an interrogation, but they kept a written record of all of the conversations and sent the record to their superiors. They would serve refreshments to keep it friendly. They insisted that it was a consultation, although I had nothing to share with them since “befriending” an Intelligence officer is poison to a journalist’s career.

17. Abdul-Hossein Samadi was the officer in charge of my case file. He summoned me to the Intelligence office, usually once a month, and was in charge of giving me “guidance.” He was a short young man. After six or seven months and a few months before I was detained, I felt that these meetings were becoming more of a collaboration. For example, my newspaper published an article that was about a government director embezzling funds. Mr. Samadi, my interrogator, called me and complained that I hadn’t coordinate my activities with him. I told him I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to coordinate with him. He responded that we are comrades, and I made it clear that we were not. From that point forward, there was some tension between us, which became more evident when he called me a few weeks later. He said, “Even in America the CIA and Newsweek journalists collaborate and give news to each other.” I disagreed, replying that there hadn’t in fact been any collaboration because I gave information but I didn’t get anything in return. I also noted that the CIA doesn’t ask personal questions, such as whether my friends or I have satellites in our houses, or if we drink. After this we had limited communication and our relationship soured. I was aware that Mr. Samadi was economically helping the other journalists who were being cooperative. However, after my interview with RadioFarda, he made it a point to remind me that he intended to help me like he did for others, but that I clearly did not want his help. I told him that everyone had to choose their own path and that I had chosen mine.

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Tagged as:

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