Omid Memarian

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Statements by Deputy District Attorney Regarding Iranian-American Cases:
Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh will have some writing to do!

In a recent
interview, Hassan Haddad, Security Deputy District Attorney of Tehran stated that investigations about Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh cases has completed. He added that these two will have some writing to do upon completion of which further decisions will be made about them. (For NYTimes story on this click here)

Haddad did not elaborate on the meaning of “some writing” in a case where investigations are complete, and has provided no further comments or information. Review of some similar cases and reports by former political prisoners, intellectuals and writers named in previous security cases, however, clearly demonstrate that such “writings” are nothing new. Over the past several years, the District Attorney Office and security authorities have demanded prisoners of similar cases, authors, journalists, intellectuals, or researchers to write articles or a book including confessions they had submitted during their months of solitary confinement and imprisonment, as a condition for their release.

In some cases, prisoners were made to sign book publication releases on confessions made under physical and psychological pressures inside their solitary cells and without access to their attorneys. In one case a prisoner was forced to sign such a release in prison, and a few days after his release he was contacted by someone from a morning newspaper in Tehran, informing him that his confessions will be published in the paper the next day! He objected to the decision and threatened the newspaper that if his confessions were published, he would have to “tell all” to foreign press and newspapers. This is how he stopped publication of his confessions in the newspapers and in book format. Other prisoners have faced similar suggestions over the past years and have resisted them. Sections of confessions made inside Iranian prisons have in the past found their way to newspapers close to security forces.

Another practice has been to ask prisoners who are scholar upon completion of their investigations period to write their accounts of other individuals about whom interrogators or security forces are interested. These accounts must encompass any details the prisoner knows of the other individual’s personal and professional life. This is one of the most destructive forms of psychological pressure on prisoners. These written accounts are included in the “writing” demanded of an individual to perform, in return for which political prisoners are usually promised their freedom.

Dr. Haleh Esfandiar and Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh who have been in prison over four months now have been denied access to a lawyer. The sixty-seven year old Esfandiari is not in good health and Tajbakhsh has been under immense psychological pressure in prison, fearing the health of his pregnant wife. Security forces had asked Tajbakhsh’s wife and mother to strictly refrain from talking about his case with anyone.

Haddad’s statement comes several weeks after a television broadcast of statements made by these two Iranian-American researchers about their activities. The program entitled “Towards Democracy” was broadcast on two consecutive nights, and raised criticism and objection both inside and abroad. The film attempted to demonstrate how academic and cultural activities of the two have aimed to facilitate a “velvet revolution” in Iran.
Evin Prison, North of Tehran, By Fariba Amini)
The two researchers are now kept in Evin Prison’s Ward 209. Over the past several weeks concerns have been raised over the two prisoners’ health, as no one has been able to meet them since their detention. In his interview with IRNA, Haddad talked about the prisoners’ conditions in Ward 209 of Evin Prisoner. “Ward 209 in Evin is one of the best prisons of the world. Some prisoners request to be transferred to this Ward. Ward 209 is not at all comparable with other prisons. This Ward is maintained in a modern state. Of course a security prison must be clearly identified and prisoner conditions must also be defined, but there is no reason for these prisoners not to have visitors or to be deprived from fresh air breaks. These are a prisoner’s rights and we abide by them. Regarding solitary confinement, as I mentioned before, it’s not like that. In certain cases the Judge might order security prisoners to be detained in equipped [modern] suites for limited intervals. We claim to have the best security prisons of the whole world, and all authorities who have visited these prisons confirm that [claim].”

Haddad’s statement regarding the security prison in Ward 209 of Evin Prison are made on the heel of former prisoners of the ward claiming that their citizens’ rights were repeatedly violated when while imprisoned in 209, they did not have access to lawyers, were kept up at night to attend long interrogation sessions, were threatened and coerced, their personal lives had been topics of interrogation, and multitudes of psychological and mental pressure were exerted upon them.

Regarding the other Iranian-American prisoner, Ali Shakeri, Haddad has stated that he has no new information: “Ali Shakeri’s situation has nothing to do with these two and we are not yet ready to provide full information about this individual’s situation.”


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