Letter from Evin Prison
The following letter was written by Saeed in 2010 and translated into English. it details Saeed’s arrest, imprisonment and torture.
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 abduction. I was handcuffed, blindfolded and placed in 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, several 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 received. That night, I was transferred to ward 2-A of Evin Prison. I was placed in a solitary cell measuring 2m × 1.7m. I was only allowed to leave the cell twice a day at certain times for a break of fresh air. Every time 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 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 a “mohr” in Iran]. Until December 21, 2009, I spent 124 days in the general ward of 2-A. I was never granted a weekly visit 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. Any time 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 returned to solitary confinement, this time in ward 240 of Evin prison. I spent another 48 days, until February 8, 2010, in solitude, without access to 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 for 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 if I would give whatever false confession the interrogators dictated.
I have to add that the confession in front of the magistrate was extracted in 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 told me 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 at unpredictable hours, both day and night. The interrogations included severe beatings. The torture was carried out either in the “technical office” outside the prison or in the interrogations office in ward 2-A.
Most of the time, the torture was performed by a group. While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several interrogators struck me with cables, batons, and their fists. 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.
During one of these interrogations, 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 [to continue 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 half of my body was paralyzed and I was unable to move, so they took me to Evin Prison’s clinic. The doctor, after seeing my condition, emphasized that I should be transferred to a hospital. I was returned to my cell instead, and left to my own devices until 9:00 pm. 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. 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 center with the clotted blood remaining in my ear. For 20 days, the left side of my body was numb, and I had little control over my left arm and leg muscles. I 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 pliers. One of my teeth broke and my jaw was displaced after he kicked me in the face instead. However, the physical torture was nothing compared to the psychological torments. I endured long solitary confinement (totaling 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 reports of arresting my wife. My mental health was severely threatened. I had no access 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, the news was kept from me for approximately 40 days, despite the fact that the officials were aware of his death. I learned of my father’s death from a five minute (supervised) phone call home. Masoud, one of the interrogators, burst into laughter and mocked me when 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 Guard interrogators in front of the camera. The interrogation team had promised me these films would never be aired on TV, and would only be shown to regime officials to receive a larger budget for their “Gerdab” project.
However, I found out later on that the films were shown numerous times on state-run television during the seventh day funeral service for my father [in Iranian and Shiite traditions, the seventh and fortieth days after death are commemorated]. This resulted in severe emotional pain for my family. My mother suffered a heart attack after seeing my picture and false confessions on television.
Some of the confessions 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 it for sale on my website. I was forced to add that when somebody visited my website, the software would be – without the visitor’s knowledge – installed on their computer and would take control of their webcam, even when their webcam was 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 my case – that if I participated 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 leniency from the prosecution. I was promised I would receive a maximum of two years in prison. These promises were repeated many times, though after the end of the filming sessions, they did not honor any of them.
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 of Torture Act.” [The act] was passed by Parliament in 2004. According to Article 4 of the act, the confessions I made are not admissible in court, as 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 file, 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 access) 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.
March 13, 2010