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Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

30. At 12 p.m., the judge finally called me in to a small room where he was sitting behind a table and officer Samadi was sitting behind another table. As I came forward he asked if I was Sigarchi, after which he began speaking to me in French. He went on for 10 minutes in French and then said “Don’t you understand what I’m saying?” I said “No.” He then suggested we speak in English, and went on in English for a while. I understood a bit and responded to what I could. After having waited four hours, though, I felt justified in complaining to him. So I sarcastically asked if they had summoned me to court for foreign language lessons. He scolded me: “Shut up you piece of garbage! What kind of spy are you that doesn’t know any other languages?” He then gave my case file to the guard and told me to get lost.

31. After another two hours they called me back in again. They presented me with a few articles that my newspaper had published and accused me of having written lies. I replied that if they wanted the documents to corroborate the stories I had written, I would provide them. But Judge Eskandari insisted they were lies. When I would argue with him, he would send me out of the room and then call me back again. This went on a few times. After a while I suggested that if the crimes they are accusing me of were press violations, I should be entitled to legal representation and a jury according to the law. I added that I have nothing left to say. He snapped, and ordered one of the guards to handcuff me. They handcuffed me and took me out of the room and left me for another hour or so. At 3 p.m., Mr. Eskandari called me back and told me return to the next day at 9:00 a.m.

32. I went straight back to the Gilan-i Imruz office. My colleagues were very worried about me. I delegated the remainder of my work and told them that “the road on which I was about to tread had no return.” They insisted that I should apologize and repent. I told them that the judge I was dealing with was unpredictable and there was no point in trying to apologize or repent. That evening, some of my friends came over and said they would help me escape the country. We weren’t that far from the border – about three hours. Although they wanted to help me escape, I felt I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I didn’t go. Later that night, another set of friends called and told me that my case was very serious and the Ministry of Intelligence would really harass me. I acknowledged their concern, and told them that the end of the road is execution which I do not fear. I was once again thinking of what had been done to Zahra Kazemi. But I didn’t try to leave; I stayed home that night. Of course even if I had wanted to leave they wouldn’t have let me. I’m sure I was being monitored.

33. In the morning I went back to the court groomed and well dressed. The court proceedings began. My charges were read one by one. I can’t remember what they all were because they never gave them to me in writing. I was charged with fourteen different crimes but ultimately was convicted of four. I remember that one was that I had insulted the Leader (Rahbar). They said that I had written in my blog that “Mr. Khamenei is going to drink the cup of poison just like Imam Khomeini drank the cup of poison. And just like Imam Khomeini died a year after that, Khamenei will also die a year later.” I corrected them and said, “I wrote in my blog and recommended to Mr. Khamenei that since the world has threatened Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear activities and war is looming, it is best to drink the cup of poison before it is too late.” But I never wrote “Just like Khomeini died a year after that, Khamenei will also die a year later.” He insisted that I had written what he said. I responded that if they had the documents to prove their position, I would willingly go to prison. He replied that they also had “other” charges against me.

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Tagged as:

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