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Archive for March, 2010

Saeed Malekpour’s letter is describing a shocking account of torture, interrogation and forced confessions. This letter is published at Committee of Human Rights Reporters Website.

My name is Saeed Malekpour. I was arrested on October 4th, 2008, near Vanak Square (in northern Tehran) by plainclothes agents who did not present an arrest warrant or identification. The arrest resembled an abduction. Afterwards, I was handcuffed, blindfolded and placed at the back of a Sedan. A heavy-set agent leaned his weight on me by positioning his elbow on my neck, and forcing my head down throughout the ride. They transferred me to an undisclosed location which they called the “technical office.” When we arrived, a few agents physically beat me severely and verbally abused me, while I remained handcuffed and blindfolded, They forced me to sign a few forms, but I was not able to read the contents. As a result of the physical assault, my neck was aching for several days and my face was swollen from the punches, slaps, and kicks I received. That night, I was transferred to ward 2-A of Evin prison. I was placed in a solitary cell 2m X 1.7m (6′2″ X 5′8″). I was only allowed to leave the cell twice a day at specified times for a break of fresh air. However, during the times I left the cell, I was blindfolded. The only time I was allowed to remove the blindfold was in my cell.

I spent 320 days (from October 4, 2008 to August 16, 2009) in solitary confinement without access to books, newspapers, or any contact with the outside world. In the cell, there was only a copy of the Qur’an, a water bottle, three blankets, and a “mohr” [Shiites perform their daily prayers on a piece of clay called "mohr" in Iran]. Until December 21, 2009, I spent 124 days in the general ward of 2-A. I was never granted weekly visits with my family during my detention. During the 444 days of my detention in ward 2-A. I was allowed a few restricted visits with my family, while a Revolutionary Guards officer listened in. The agents were always present during the visits. I was never granted the right to make weekly calls. Prison staff and interrogators listened in on any call I was able to make. Anytime I discussed the content of my case with my family, the calls were disconnected. During the 444 days I spent in ward 2-A, my life was under constant threat, and I never felt safe.

On December 21, 2009, I was transferred once again to solitary confinement, this time in ward 240 of Evin prison. I spent another 48 days (until February 8, 2010) in solitude and without the right to access the outside world. Since February 8th, I have been detained in the general wards of Evin, first in ward 7 and then ward 350. So far, 12 months of the total 17 months of my detention have been spent in solitary confinement, and not once was I allowed to visit my lawyer. During this time, and particularly in the first months, I was subject to various forms of physical and psychological torture by the “Revolutionary Guards Cyber Counterattack” team. Some of the torture procedures were performed in the presence of Mr. Moussavi, the magistrate of the case. A large portion of my confession was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to myself and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated.

I have to add that the confession in front of the magistrate was extracted with the presence of interrogators. To prevent me from informing the magistrate that my confession was received under pressure, the interrogators threatened that the torture would worsen. Sometimes they threatened that they would arrest my wife and torture her in front of me. In the first few months following my arrest, I would be interrogated various hours both during the day and night. The interrogations also included severe beatings. The tortures were carried out either in the “technical office” outside the prison or in the interrogations office in ward 2-A.

Most of the time the tortures were performed by a group. While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck. Such mistreatment was aimed at forcing me to write what the interrogators were dictating, and to compel me to play a role in front of the camera based on their scenarios. Sometimes, they used extremely painful electrical shock that would paralyze me temporarily. Once in October 2008, the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water.

One of those very days, as a result of being kicked, punched, and lashed with cables on my head and face, my face became very swollen. I lost consciousness several times, but each time they would wake me up by splashing water on my face [and continued with the torture]. That night, they returned me to my cell. At the end of the night, I realized my ear was bleeding. I banged on the door of my cell, but nobody came. The next day, while half of my body was paralyzed, and I was unable to move, they took me to Evin prison’s clinic. The doctor, after seeing my condition, emphasized that I should be transferred to a hospital. However, I was returned to my cell instead, and I was left on my own until 9:00pm. Three guards eventually transferred me to Baghiatollah hospital. On our way to the hospital, the guards told me I was not allowed to give my real name, and ordered me to use the alias Mohammad Saeedi. They threatened me with severe torture if I did not follow their orders.

Before I was able to be examined by the doctor, one of the guards met with the doctor on duty in the emergency room, then I entered a few minutes later. The doctor without performing any examinations, radiography, or tests simply stated that my problem was stress related. He wrote his diagnosis on the medical report and prescribed a few pills. When I asked him to at least wash my ear the doctor said it was not necessary. I was returned to the detention centre with the blood clot remaining in my ear. For 20 days, the left side of my body was paralyzed, and I had little control over my left arm and leg muscles. I also had difficulty walking.

On January 24, 2009, after being subject to severe beatings, one of the interrogators threatened to pull out my tooth with a pair of tongs. One of my tooth broke and my jaw was displaced after I was kicked in the face by him. However, the physical tortures were nothing compared to the psychological torments. I endured long solitary confinement time (totalling to more than one year) without phone calls or the possibility of visiting my loved ones, constant threats to arrest and torture my wife and family if I did not cooperate, threats to kill me. They also provided me with false news of arresting my wife. My mental health was severely threatened. I had no acces to any books or journals in the solitary cells, and at times, I would not speak to anybody for days.

Restrictions and psychological pressures on me and my family grew so much that after my father’s passing on March 16, 2009, and despite the fact that the officials were aware of his death, kept the news from me for approximately 40 days. When I had a five minute (supervised) phone call with home, I learned of my father’s death.

Masoud, one of the interrogators, burst into laughter and mocked me once he saw me crying about the news of my father’s death. Despite my pleas, they did not allow me to attend my father’s memorial service. In addition to the psychological tortures, the Revolutionary Guards interrogation team illegally, and contrary to religious principles, withdrew some funds from my credit card account. They also have my Paypal account. I am not sure what they have done with it.

Another example of psychological torture involved forcing me to perform scenarios dictated by the Revolutionary Guards interrogators in front of the camera. Although the interrogation team had promised me these films would never be aired on TV, and they would only be shown to regime officials to receive a larger budget for their “Gerdaab” project. However, I found out later on that the films were shown numerous times on state television during the seventh day funeral service for my father. This resulted in severe emotional pain for my family. My mother suffered from a heart attack after seeing my picture and false confessions on television. Some of the confession they forced me to make were so ridiculous and far-fetched that they are not even possible.

For example, they asked me to falsely confess to purchasing software from the UK and then posting on my website for sale. I was forced to add that when somebody visited my website, the software would be, without his/her knowledge, installed on their computer and would take control of their webcam, even when their webcam is turned off. Although I told them that what they were suggesting was impossible from a technological point of view, they responded that I should not concern myself with such things.

I was promised in the presence of the magistrate assigned to the case that if I participate in their false televised confession, they would release me conditionally or on bail until the court date. They also promised that I will enjoy the maximum leniancy in the prosecution case. I was promised I would receive a maximum of two years in prison. These promises were repeated many times, however, after the end of the filming sessions, they did not honour any of their promises.

Based on the above information, I have been subject to various forms of psychological and physical torture in violation of sections 1-9, 14-17 and article 1 of the “Ban the Torture Act.” [The act] was passed by parliament in 2004. According to article 4 of the act, the confessions I made are not admissible, and I made the majority of the confessions to alleviate the pressure on my family and friends.

After 17 months of “temporary” detention, I am still in a state of limbo. I have never been allowed to meet with my lawyer. Given the size of the case, and the nature of the accusations against me, I need a computer expert trusted by the judiciary with access to my lawyer. I also need a place equipped with technical facilities (such as internet) to prepare my defense. Therefore, I would like to ask that my request regarding release on bail or bond be granted, and that I will be provided with the above-mentioned facilities.

Saeed Malekpour

March 13, 2010

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368 days in solitary confinement with no access to any books, newspapers, with no right to outside contact, and in solitude….. and here you are, standing strong like a rock….. You’re a mountain climber, nobody and nothing can break your high spirit.

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