Mockery of Justice: The Framing of Siamak Pourzand
4.5. Related Arrests
Starting about a month after Siamak Pourzand’s disappearance, Amaken started summoning writers, journalists, filmmakers, and other intellectuals to appear in its office on Motahari Street. The summonses were conveyed by phone to the accused, contrary to Iran’s Code of Criminal Procedure that requires all law enforcement agencies to summon the accused in writing. All those who were summoned to Amaken were interrogated about their work and their political and religious beliefs. In most cases, the interrogators used Siamak Pourzand’s alleged confession as a tool to threaten and coerce those summoned to admit to anti-revolutionary activities.
Those summoned most often returned home after a day of interrogations without being detained any longer. Some were asked to provide written confessions and others were threatened with imprisonment if they did not cease their political activities. Reformists objected to the Amaken campaign. Ali Asghar Hadizadeh, a reformist member of Majlis, accused Ayatollah Shahroudi, the head of the judiciary, of knowingly allowing the law to be violated by his subordinates. Seyyed Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Legal Advisor to President Khatami, noted that Amaken and the NAJA did not have a mandate to summon the journalists.
The journalists and writers who were summoned to Amaken were warned not to reveal the identity of their interrogators. Few of them talked publicly about how they were treated by Amaken. Those who talked invariably complained of threat and intimidation, insults and an environment of fear in which they were threatened to confess to crimes they had not committed. Firuz Goran, a journalist who was summoned by Amaken, told Nourooz:
Upon arrival at the Amaken office, I was taken to the basement … I was called to a room where two persons were sitting. One interrogator tried to provoke and frustrate me with his choice of words and insults. The interrogators asked questions that had nothing to do with Amaken’s mandate. Both men wore plain clothes. My impression is that they were not NAJA officers … [They] asked me questions about my recent interviews with the foreign media.
On January 31, 2002, Mohammad Ali Safari, a popular attorney and journalist, was summoned by Amaken. Immediately after his release, he suffered a heart attack. He did not recover and died in hospital in late February 2002. Before he died, Mr. Safari wrote a complaint to the Article 90 Commission, a commission composed of Majlis members constitutionally mandated to address private complaints filed against the three branches of government. In his letter, Mr. Safari alleged that his rights had been violated by Amaken and that he was mistreated, insulted, and aggressively interrogated by plainclothes interrogators.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Mr. Sajadiyan, the head of Amaken, assured the Media Deputy of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance that the summonses did not have a political nature.