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Mockery of Justice: The Framing of Siamak Pourzand

8. Temporary Release

On November 30, 2002, Siamak Pourzand was temporarily released from custody.[212] His release came a week before the scheduled visit of European Union delegates to Iran.[213] The European Union’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, had reportedly raised Mr. Pourzand’s case with President Khatami during a preliminary meeting on August 2, 2002.[214] Mr. Pourzand’s daughter, Lily Pourzand, takes up the story:

One day when my father was being held in “the suite,” he was ordered to pack his clothes and other items and leave the room. He was told that he was free and he could go home. But my father did not want to leave. He was not sure why he was being released and why authorities wanted him to leave his cell without any previous notice. So he was suspicious of their intentions. But finally, they made him to pack his clothes and took him to Evin prison. In Evin prison he was handed over to his step-sister, Minoo Pourzand, because Mahin Pourzand was out of the country at that time.[215]

Once back at his step-sister’s house Mr. Pourzand began exhibiting signs of serious physical and mental distress:

He was 45kg when he was released and he had not been allowed to bathe for a long time. He was afraid of taking shower. It was so unnatural that we believe he might have been subjected to mistreatment. He was scared of water. He did not want to shave his beard or have his hair cut.[216]

Mr. Pourzand had also become incontinent in prison:

He was soiling himself. He had never had such a problem before his detention. He had many surgeries after his release for conditions that had developed while he was detained, and one of them was related to this problem.[217]

On December 17, 2002, the Iranian authorities granted the European Union envoys access to visit Mr. Pourzand at his stepsister’s home.[218] However, he did not remain free for long after their visit. Within three months, he had been rearrested and transferred to Evin prison.

9. Evin Prison

In March 2003, Siamak Pourzand was summoned to Evin Prison. He obeyed the summons and was met at the prison by his court-appointed attorney, Dabir Daryabeigi, and by Judge Ja’far Sabiri Zafarqandi. He was urged to implicate further individuals and he refused.[219] Judge Zafarqandi asked him to write a book based on his confession.[220] Siamak Pourzand demurred, saying that he was too old, and too sick, and thus physically unable to write a book. Then Judge Zafarqandi suggested that the authorities write the book under his name and he simply stand behind it. Siamak Pourzand refused to do this as well.[221] In April 2003, he was summoned back to Court, where he was again instructed to cooperate with the authorities. He once more refused and he was sent back to Evin prison.[222]

Student activist Ali Afshari was being held in Evin when Siamak Pourzand arrived at the prison. He recalled:

He was very quiet and dispirited. He was not talking and was very scared and fearful. We tried to raise his spirits and get him out of his depression but he was very scared.[223]

Meanwhile, Mr. Pourzand’s court-appointed attorney, Dabir Daryabeigi, gave an interview to the ISNA in which he confirmed that Mr. Pourzand had been detained at Evin. He claimed that he was trying to secure Mr. Pourzand’s temporary release on bail but added, “since Pourzand has no family here and his [immediate] family lives abroad, and also considering that his physical condition is not very favorable due to his old age, he preferred to stay in prison.”[224] Mrs. Kar vigorously rejected Daryabeigi’s claim: 

The conservatives had reached to the end of their game. Siamak’s presence was not useful any more for them. He was an old man and they wanted to get rid of him.[225]

Former Evin detainee Kianoosh Sanjari echoed Mrs. Kar’s comments in an article published on the website Gooya that alleged that the Iranian authorities had been deliberately denying Mr. Pourzand the medical care he needed in the hope that he would succumb to his illnesses. He described Mr. Pourzand’s poor state of health:

While I was in Block 7 of Evin Prison, I clearly witnessed the extent of Mr. Pourzand’s ailments and incapacity. In those days he could barely walk and his consumption of pain-killers had exacerbated this condition. At the time, he should have been taken out of prison for an MRI but it didn’t happen. A fall, a winter and a spring passed … before he was transferred to a hospital, Siamak Pourzand could not even stand on his feet … he had suffered many heart problems in prison. Dr. Farzad Hamidi, [another political prisoner], would come to his aid and, with the help of others, would take Pourzand to the prison clinic, which had no medical equipment.[226] 

Another fellow prisoner, Ahmad Batebi, also spoke to reporters about Mr. Pourzand’s condition:

Siamak Pourzand is suffering from a number of physical ailments such as spinal pain, heart problems, high blood pressure, and blood clots in his legs, which are very visible. [There are] bruises on his calves, hamstrings, and arms. [Siamak] showed his various physician’s statements to us and on one of them I saw that his physician had strongly recommended that he should be under constant observation by a specialist for a year.[227]

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