Head of the Judiciary Called on to Explain Lack of Accountability for Prisoner of Conscience Arash Sadeghi
In a September 14 letter addressed to Iran’s Intelligence Minister, 250 Iranian journalists and political activists asked the Minister to review the troubling conditions of Arash Sadeghi, a former student activist who has been in custody since January 15, 2012.
According to the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA), during a recent weekly press conference on Monday, September 9, Iran’s Prosecutor General and Spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary Mohseni Ejei said, “It has been said that this individual is on hunger strike at Evin Prison. However, in 2012 and 2013 there has been no such person at Evin Prison. Of course, a person by this name was arrested in 2010 and he was sentenced to one year in prison, and he was released after serving his sentence. But even if this is a case of mistaken identity, no one by that name was at Evin Prison in 2012 and 2013.”
The letter signatories refer to Mohseni Ejei’s troubling statements about his lack of knowledge about the conditions of Arash Sadegh during 2012 and 2013, and ask Seyed Mahmoud Alavi as Minister of Intelligence of Rouhani’s cabinet to provide information about the detention location and health conditions of Arash Sadeghi.
In June, 2013, following rumors that prisoner of conscience Arash Sadeghi had died in prison, his former lawyer told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he is alive, though the lawyer refused to answer questions about whether Sadeghi had been beaten in prison. Sadeghi’s former cellmate told the Campaign no prisoners have seen him, and he has likely been held in solitary confinement since his arrest.
“Through the follow-ups I have made, I am sure that he is alive and the rumors circulating about him are not true,” Mahmoud Alizadeh Tababaee, the political prisoner’s former lawyer, told the Campaign in late June. Regarding questions of beatings by prison officials, the reasons why Sadeghi has not been transferred to the general ward, and whether his family has been able to visit with him, Tababaee said, “I cannot answer these questions. We were very concerned about whether Arash is alive or not, and I have been assured over the past days that he is alive.”
Arash Sadeghi was a sixth-term graduate student of philosophy at Allameh Tabatabaee University, a member of the Islamic Association of the university, and a member of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s election campaign in the 2009 presidential election when he was arrested on July 9, 2009, following street protests. He was released in late August 2009 without being informed of his charges. Sadeghi resumed his education at Allameh Tabatabaee University that September but was arrested again in December 2009 and released again in March 2010, again without being informed of his charges. He was arrested a third time in June 2010, and released in August 2010. After this third release, his lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaee informed him that Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Pirabassi had sentenced him to six years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “assembly and collusion with intent to act against national security.”
Intelligence forces raided Arash Sadeghi’s home at 4 a.m. on October 30, 2010, in order to arrest him. Sadeghi’s mother suffered a heart attack with the shock of the raid and passed away. Arash Sadeghi, who was not home that day, turned himself in at Evin Prison on December 21, 2010. He was immediately transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison and subjected to torture by Intelligence forces coercing him to sign a letter denying any relation between his mother’s death and the raid by security forces.
Peyman Aref, a former prisoner of conscience who was Arash Sadeghi’s cellmate for some time, told the Campaign last June, “Arash was so harshly tortured inside Ward 209 of Evin Prison for signing that letter of denial that his right shoulder broke. When he was transferred to the General Ward, the ward physician ordered 10 physical therapy sessions for him. I was a witness to all of this. Arash was so severely tortured that he was no longer able to lift his right arm. A year after his arrest and almost a month before his release, he was informed of his case process, learning that the appeals court had reduced his sentence from six years to five years, only one year of which was to be served in prison. Therefore he was released on December 15, 2011.”
But Arash Sadeghi was arrested again on January 15, 2012, and has been inside Ward 209 of Evin Prison ever since without having been informed of his new charges.
In a January 21, 2013, interview with Kaleme, Arash Sadeghi’s father, Hossein Sadeghi, said, “After the last visit Arash’s grandfather had with him, he told me that Arash has become terribly thin. Arash had an old lung condition that has been exacerbated in prison, and they don’t provide any medical care for his conditions. As a result of his constant hunger strikes in recent times, he has also developed stomach problems and he has stomach bleeding. In the last visit Arash’s grandfather had with him, he stated that Arash has become awfully thin and he is hardly recognizable. His head has been shaved, too. He is very weak, very thin.”
Asked about Arash Sadeghi’s detention location, Hossein Sadeghi told Kaleme, “Since his latest arrest on January 15, 2012, he has been inside the Intelligence Ministry’s Ward 209, and thus far he has only had two visits.”
Asked about the beatings and the torture Arash Sadeghi received during his interrogations, his father told Kaleme, “Perhaps one of the worst ways the interrogator tortured him was to pull out the hair on his body one by one. One slap he received from the interrogator caused one of his front teeth to break. He was constantly beaten to the point that he sometimes passed out under interrogation. When he was arrested again after his mother’s passing and taken to prison, he was beaten there and his rib was broken…. Another thing was Arash’s shoulder, which unfortunately was dislocated after he was beaten several times. In his last visit with his grandfather, he said that they don’t give him any painkillers and as a result he has a lot of pain in his shoulder and rib.” Hossein Sadeghi also told Kaleme that Intelligence Ministry forces threatened Arash Sadeghi’s grandfather after he talked with the media about Arash’s conditions, and forbade him from giving interviews about Arash Sadeghi.
The international community is calling on Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani to provide an explanation about the Judiciary Spokesperson’s irresponsible remarks in disavowing knowledge about Arash Sadeghi’s whereabouts and conditions. There are also calls on Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani to make the Iranian Judiciary’s Prisons Organization and the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office accountable for Arash Sadeghi’s whereabouts, his health conditions, and his judicial case, and to explain the reasons for his continued detention since January 2011 without charges, access to a lawyer and his family, and a fair trial.