Three Months After Mofidi’s Imprisonment: Tales of Rough Treatment in Prison
Daughters of prominent Iranian journalist and Secretariat of the banned Iranian Journalists Association, Badressadat Mofidi, have published a letter after a recent visit with their mother in prison. They have described immense psychological and physical pressure, violent and continuous interrogations, solitary confinement, deprivation of phone calls to family, repeated change of prison cells, and an ambiguous legal case against their mother.
Badressadat Mofidi has reported that her interrogations are not limited to her professional activities, as her activities for the past 30 years have been questioned. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran demands that Iran’s judicial authorities end the illegal and inhumane process of this journalist’s treatment and to release her on bail as soon as possible. The fact that three months after her imprisonment no charges have been announced against her and that her personal life over the past years as been a focus of her interrogations is illegal according to Citizen’s Rights Law. A continuation of this illegal process will only lead to further loss of credibility for Iran’s Judiciary.
Considering Badressadat Mofidi’s heart condition and a continuation of what she has described as “violent interrogations,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran holds Iran’s Ministries of Intelligence and Judiciary responsible for any negative consequences for Ms. Mofidi’s health under international law. A continuation of this illegal detention is against all legal and humane principles.
Kaleme Web site has published the letter Ms. Mofidi’s two daughters have written. In their letter, they state that during their visit with their mother, she repeatedly referred to verses from the Qoran in which individuals face death. According to them, the psychological and physical pressure on their mother is such that she sees no way out of her situation.
Badressadat Mofidi’s husband, Massoud Aghaee, who is a political activist of the national-religious orientation was arrested along with Ms. Mofidi on December 28, 2009. He was released after 52 days of solitary confinement at Ministry of Intelligence Ward 240 on a $500,000 bail.
Badressadat Mofidi, a prominent journalist who formerly worked as a Parliamentary reporter with newspapers such as Hayat-e No and Sharq, was also the Iranian Journalists Association’s Secretariat. The Iranian Journalists Association was shut down on Iranian authorities’ orders last year. The Association was the biggest independent journalists organization in Iran and was critical of government policies vis a vis the press and journalists. Sources close to Mofidi told the Internatioanl Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that she was not active in the post-elections protests and did not participate in any gatherings and that her arrest in connection with Ashura Day events is baseless. They also emphasize that during the pressure campaign against the Iranian Journalists Association, Badressadat Mofidi criticized the decision of government authorities, calling it illegal and up until the last moments of the Association’s life defended the rights of the press through correspondence with authorities and brought up the issues facing the press. They believe that the reason for her arrest was the criticism she posed in her capacity as the Association’s Secretariat.
On December 28, 2009 at 10:00 p.m., the day after Ashura events, five Ministry of Intelligence agents presenting a general warrant from the Tehran Prosecutor referring to those who participated in Ayatollah Montazeri’s funeral, went to Mofidi’s home and after searching the premises and collecting personal items of Massoud Aghaee, Badressadat Mofidi and their two daughters, they arrested her.
Badressadat Mofidi’s first visit took place on January 30, 2010, through a meeting booth, though her family had an authorization letter from Tehran Prosecutor’s office to meet her in person. During the visit, Ms. Mofidi told her family that she had not met any officers from the Prosecutor’s Office and had not been informed about her charges and detention orders. Her objections had not been acknowledged and her interrogations had taken place during the first 20 days of her imprisonment. Since then and until March 6, 2010 she was moved between different solitary confinement cells and general cells without any interrogations or announcement of reasons for this.
Her two daughters wrote in their letter: “We learned through a released prisoner that our mother was returned to Ward 209 on March 6, 2010, after her interrogations ended and she had spent 52 days in limbo. Her phone calls ended that day and she was deprived of her visitation rights, even through visiting booths. Tehran Prosecutor, Mr. Jafari told our father on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, that Ministry of Intelligence officers oppose our mother’s release due to her lack of cooperation with them. He had also said: “Go and visit her through a booth tomorrow; I will order an in-person visit for next week. I have also told her case judge to expedite the review of her case.”
They added: “The next day they wouldn’t let us visit her (according to the prison officer ‘according to judicial orders, she is deprived of visitors’). After several days’ coming and going, on March 17, 2010 Mr. Jafari issued a letter, ordering in-person visitation for March 21, 2010. On the morning of the Iranian New Year, our mother called us on the phone for two minutes, begging us to pray for her while her voice quivered badly. We said we are coming to visit you with a visitation order.”
Describing their meeting with their mother, Badressadat Mofidi’s daughters wrote: “When we got to the prison door, the family of a Ward 209 prisoner were exiting. They told us they were returning from a visit. But when the officers saw our letter, they said visitations are closed for the next two weeks. “Go away and return after April 4, 2010.” Our insistence didn’t work, either. Hopelessly, we went to the visiting hall of the prison on Thursday, March 25, 2010. There was a large crowd there. It seemed like the visits were in progress again. They didn’t pay any attention to our letter again, but they said that we could see our mother through the booth. When we saw her we couldn’t believe it. The pressure during 25 days of solitary confinement had weakened her greatly. She wasn’t chipper as usual. She looked so worried.”
The said visit took place with security officers present. The next visit with her took place at the prison with her two daughters and husband. They have said that when they arrived in the Evin prison yard, they saw their mother who was sitting inside a car and apparently didn’t seem to know why she had been taken out of the prison.
Mofidi’s daughters wrote: “We got into the car and went to a multi-story building nearby. They took us to a room while that officer stayed inside the door frame. We were with her for half an hour. She was so anxious, as if she was going through immense pressure. Her hand had ink on it. She had just returned from interrogation. Apparently during all this time and almost everyday she has been interrogated intensely. She complained about the interrogators’ violence and that they started with 30 years ago. She repeated several times that she is not allowed to talk about the interrogations.”
Referring to their mother’s heart condition they wrote: “She said they have been giving her a pill for her heart condition every night (strong tranquilizer). She gets up with difficulty in the mornings and feels disoriented most of the time. She said one time, “I was so disoriented that my interrogator took pity on me and ended the interrogation session.””
Ms. Mofidi’s lawyer has not been able to meet with her during this entire time. He knows nothing about the charges, nor has he been able to read her file.
At the end of their letter, Badressadat Mofidi’s daughters demanded a review of their mother’s conditions and that she be interrogated under normal conditions. “Our mother is a journalist and the very nature of her work requires being public. What does she have to hide that would warrant such treatment?”