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Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

28. On January 6, 2005, the newspaper’s general manager called me to the office yard, which he often did when we wished to discuss private matters. He was working with the blessing of the regime and was therefore on good terms with them. He told me that I had to go to court the next day. I said, “So, it’s finally serious?” He told me that he tried his best to avoid a court summons, but was unsuccessful. He assured me, however, that it was nothing serious, and that he had a deed for bail. That evening I went to the newspaper and spoke to my colleagues and distributed my remaining responsibilities. The next morning at 9:00 a.m., I appeared in court. From 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Officer Samadi, the investigator in my case, was in the judge’s chamber while I waited outside. During this time a few other people went in and out of the judge’s office. One of them was the Chief Judge of the city of Rasht. The others were intelligence officials who went in to talk to the judge for a few minutes. The judge assigned to my case was Judge Eskandari, who was the Head of Branch 3 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Gilan Provence.

29. Judge Eskandari was very clean cut and well dressed. He was an interesting character, who was rumored to have sexual relations with other men. While I was in prison, I heard from one of the inmates that he had been propositioned by Eskandari, which at the time I did not believe. But when I was released my parents and everyone else were saying the same thing. The truth was that Judge Eskandari had two problems to deal with. The first was that he was a homosexual and the other was that he used his position to acquire wealth. For example, if a person was arrested with a thousand kilograms of heroine that was worth say, $500,000, Eskandari would suggest that in exchange for $100,000, in place of execution he would instead sentence him to ten years’ imprisonment. Another example is that while I was in the public ward, there was a man who was given a two years sentence for the possession of one kilogram of opium, while another man had received the same sentence for possession of 100 grams of opium. Eskandari would also share these monetary gains with other judges and intelligence officials and that is why, my case file was sent to his branch so he could do as the Intelligence Officers wished.

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