Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi
53. I truly believe that Judge Eskandari wanted to use my case to please the intelligence officers. For this reason, he gave me the maximum sentence on all the charges issued against me. It is also important to note that security apparatus had just encountered the weblogging phenomenon and wanted to paralyze bloggers with fear by dealing with them decisively. In truth, it did create fear. Everyone thought that if I, who was the Editor-in-Chief of a newspaper, was sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment for weblogging, what would happen to them? What was different about my case file was that the complainant was the Ministry of Intelligence, making it more official. For the other cases, the complainants were the parallel intelligence agencies of Sepah, who didn’t have as apparent an identity. They were essentially outside of Khatami’s government and were trying to portray his government as inept by creating problems for the intellectuals. My complainant, the Ministry of Intelligence, is in charge of the security of the Islamic Republic and is, after all, a ministry. Their interrogation sheets have a heading with the name of the ministry and the unit in charge of interrogation. However, in regards to the parallel intelligence agency, the summons were without a written order and very unofficial. The lack of knowledge regarding those detaining the prisoners, and the fact that the detainees did not know where they were and what organ arrested them, meant that the arrests were unofficial. I received and still have in my possession my summons and verdicts.
54. In my sentence, the Ministry of Intelligence requested that I be exiled to one of the central or southern provinces within the country due to my flight risk. In some instances in Iran, the accused is sentenced to exile in a city far away from where he resides. In the Iranian penal code, there are cities mentioned such as Izeh, Masjed Soleyman, Ramhormoz and others that are specifically considered in cases of exile. The person who issues the verdict can choose one of those cities as the place of exile for the prisoner. Since this was not possible, and I was not dangerous, this request was denied.