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Mockery of Justice: The Framing of Siamak Pourzand

11. Conclusion

Siamak Pourzand’s case was at the center of a pivotal moment in recent Iranian history. He was cynically framed by hard-line conservative elements within the Iranian political and judicial establishment as a warning to others in the reform movement that the clerical establishment would not allow them to liberalize conditions in the Islamic Republic.

The evidence manufactured against Siamak Pourzand and his subsequent confession, obtained in circumstances which unquestionably amount to duress, were used to discredit the reformist media and to divert attention away from legitimate calls for reform. The fact that Mr. Pourzand could be linked, no matter how spuriously, to exiled monarchists through his first wife, and the reform movement through his second wife, made him an ideal candidate for such a strategy.

In a wider sense, Siamak Pourzand’s treatment also discredits claims that the Islamic Republic offers some democratic space for the people of Iran to influence events in their country. Despite elections that invested the government of President Mohammad Khatami with a clear mandate to implement reform, hard-line conservatives schemed and maneuvered to thwart the will of the Iranian people. Siamak Pourzand was the innocent victim they exploited for this purpose.

Siamak Pourzand’s case also highlights the fragility of the rule of law inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hard-line conservatives subverted the judicial system, stretched the jurisdictional boundaries of Amaken beyond their intended limits, ignored the due process protections in the Iranian legal code, denied Siamak Pourzand’s right to amount a defense to the charges against him, and paraded their victim before the cameras.

Siamak Pourzand began his ordeal as a secret prisoner, arbitrarily detained for purely political reasons. He is now a very public victim of a callous regime that acts against its own citizens with impunity. Arbitrary detention and televised confessions are the unmistakable tools of an authoritarian state. The Pourzand case clearly exposes the lengths to which Iran’s clerical establishment will go to hold on to power.


The IHRDC gathered information for this report from the following sources:

  • Testimony of victims and witnesses. These include witness statements taken by IHRDC attorneys from former detainees of the secret prison system or their family members. We have withheld the names of two witnesses – witness A, who was a former member of the Iranian intelligence community, and witness B, who is still living inside Iran – at the witnesses’ request. The IHRDC has not spoken directly with Siamak Pourzand himself.
  • Government documents.  These include recorded public statements by state officials, court documents, official reports by organizations such as the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, statements released by Iranian government agencies, and published legal instruments.
  • Documents issued by non-governmental organizations. These include reports and press releases written by organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.
  • Academic articles. These include the works of historians and political scientists who have written on the reform era. 
  • Media reporting. These include articles published in newspapers both inside Iran and in the foreign media.
  • The IHRDC particularly wishes to thank the Library of Congress for its invaluable assistance in researching this project.

Where the report cites or relies on information provided by government actors or other involved parties, it specifies the source of such information and evaluates the information in light of the relative reliability of each source. The IHRDC has meticulously cross-checked all the sources of information used to compiled this report to ensure their credibility and accuracy. 

All names of places, people, organizations, etc. originally written in Farsi have been transliterated using the system of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (IJMES), available at http://assets.cambridge.org/MES/mes_ifc.pdf. Under the IJMES system, names of places with an accepted English spelling and names of prominent cultural or political figures may be spelled according to the English norm.

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