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Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

18. It was late August and extremely hot when I was summoned to the detention center. Nonetheless, I was made to stand outside, under the sun for two hours. It was around 2:00 or 2:30 p.m., when two soldiers took me inside the detention center and placed me in a cell, leaving me there for another 2 hours. It was a really small cell, about 1½ m x 2 m, which I later realized was a palace compared to the cells I would eventually be placed in. They called me around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., blindfolded me and took me to a basement. They slapped me around for about two hours and broke my glasses and watch. They splashed me with water and hit me some more – enough to make me cry. The beatings weren’t anything like what I had heard about before. They went on for three to four hours. I think it was around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. when a few people arrived, but I wasn’t able to see them. One of them said, “Is this him? He will be dealt with! We’ll make him talk, he has to say what the hell he’s been up to.” You could tell by his accent that he was from Tehran. While they were talking amongst themselves, I recognized Samadi’s voice and asked if he was in the room. From behind, I heard them say, “Who is Samadi… who the hell is he? How much were you paid for spying?” I gave them straightforward answers. Their questions were irrelevant and unacceptable. They had no expertise in the field of journalism and insisted that I had spied. I emphasized that I was only a journalist. They asked me why I had contacts with foreign radio stations. I replied because I was a journalist and my job was to report the news. Eventually, they left and returned me to my cell.

19. It was perhaps 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., when they took me out of my cell and blindfolded me again. I heard Samadi’s voice, and I asked him to identify himself. This time he responded with a “Yes.” He began to interrogate me. At this point I had gathered what was going on. Up to this point, I had thought that I was being detained for the piece I had written on Friday. I wondered why I had been detained so soon after its posting because there was usually some lag time between blog entries and interrogations. In this instance, however, when I heard the questions I realized that the problem wasn’t just about my recent blog entry but about other important matters such as my collaboration with RadioFarda.

20. They removed my blindfold and I realized that I was facing the wall and that Samadi was behind me. I turned my chair around and we started talking. The questions revolved around RadioFarda and he never raised any issues about my blog. He accused me of have taken trips to Sanandaj and other places for the purpose of spying. He added that I had received some sort of training. I was interrogated until the rooster crowed and the sun came out. I think the interrogation lasted about six to seven hours. Before they returned me to my cell, I complained that they had beaten me and mistreated me. Samadi responded that the beatings were a mistake, and that they had confused me with someone else.

21. Samadi tried to befriend me after that. They changed my cell to one that had an air conditioner and a bed. I slept. Around noon they called me again. I changed my clothes and I found that they had prepared rice and kabob. At the time, I used to say my daily prayers and I requested permission to say my prayers first. They obliged. In fact, the officer in charge of my case came and prayed next to me. After lunch they continued to interrogate me but the vibe of the interrogation completely changed and became friendlier. Samadi wrote his questions and I replied in writing. He told me that he wanted to help me. He asked a few questions about the political affiliation of my family and told me that they knew that my uncle was a Mujahid, to which I replied, “Oh, so that’s the problem?! So the RadioFarda issue is just to confuse me!”

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Tagged as:

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