The fourth session of Saeed Malekpour’s trial is scheduled for 26th October, but his wife says, “Judge Moghise has told Saeed’s defense attorney that his sentence is death.” Saeed Malekpour is a metallurgy engineering graduate from Sharif Industrial University and a resident of Canada who came to Iran about two years ago and was arrested in relation to a case known as the Mozlin 3 case related to Internet “crimes.”
Gerdab website belonging to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) accused Malekpour of being a member in several “corrupt Internet sites” and then labeled him to be anti religious and a threat to the national security because he was the manager of the largest unethical Internet site.
Earlier, Malekpour had described in detail the tortures and the way he had been mistreated while in prison to the judge, adding that he had been forced to make false confessions. His wife Mrs. Eftekhari spoke with Rooz and said that about two weeks ago judge Moghise had told their attorney that her husband’s sentence was death, which shows that the sentencing had already been done without him having a chance to defend himself. Read on for the details of the interview.
Rooz: Please tell us what is the latest news from your husband and how is he doing?
Mrs. Eftekhari: Saeed is in ward 350 of Evin and his family meets with him every week through the glass cabins. I used to have telephone conversations with him lasting about 2 or 3 minutes until about three months ago before he was moved to ward 350, after which the calls ended. Saeed’s morale is good and I commend him for withstanding the pressures of solitary confinement for one year and being in limbo for two years. His family says that his morale is strong and well.
Rooz: As far as we know, his third trial session was supposed to take place in June or July; can you tell us about developments on that issue?
Mrs. Eftekhari: He has had three court sessions till now. In reality these were not trials and judge Moghise behaved like an interrogator, rather than a fair and an independent judge. The judge seems to completely accept what the intelligence reports have written about Saeed and therefore does not seem to need to investigate the charges against him and has ignored Saeed’s defenses. During the first trial session, Saeed was not allowed to have a defense attorney, and even though they had said that there was not going to be a session, Saeed was taken to a court session. His second trial session lasted on 15 minutes and the third session was not held because the interrogators did not show up. We now await the fourth session scheduled for October 26, 2010. But we have no hope that this will be a fair trial.
Rooz: Why do you not have hope that it will be fair?
Mrs. Eftekhari: You see, the judge officially plays the role of the interrogator and does not pay any attention to any of my husband’s defenses or requests. Saeed has requested that he be sent to the coroner’s office so that his claims can be examined, but the judge has refused to implement this. Saeed has torture marks till today and when he speaks, he feels sharp pain in his jaw, which is the result of the tortures he has been subjected to. He has also had a mild heart attack while in prison and half his body was temporarily paralyzed. He has explained all the tortures he was subjected to and till today the signs of those tortures are apparent on his body. Saeed has also requested that specialists from the justice department review his dossier, but the judge denies this as well. The judge has no knowledge about Internet or IT issues. In the 15 minutes court session, the judge told him that they had found a weblog in his house. Judge for yourself, what kind of a statement is this? They did not allow Saeed to even look at his own dossier. They also denied him access to a defense attorney. The trial is just a formality, a show and it does not help him in any way. The state of limbo in which we all are is also torturous.
Rooz: Many accusations have been made against Saeed, what is the key charge against him?
Mrs. Eftekhari: It is an assortment of accusations. If they had simply said that he was the manager of an immoral website, then things would be clear and he would know how to defend himself. But every time they see him, they raise a new charge. At one point the judge told him that he had been in contact with 10 to 12 groups inimical to the regime. And when Saeed asked which groups, the judge replied that you know better. So what is there to defend? It seems that they simply want to find some excuse and pretext to find him guilty. One day they said he had relations with foreigners then on another occasion they said he operated immoral web sites. Kayhan newspaper even wrote that Saeed worked for Canadian military projects, which is just pure fabrication. From a legal perspective how could someone who was not born in Canada, is not a Canadian citizen and was even not born there work on military projects? In fact, Saeed does not truly know what is the charge against him so that he can focus his defense on that.
Rooz: Aside these, what specific charges were read out to him in court?
Mrs. Eftekhari: Propaganda against the regime, operating immoral web sites, insulting divine principles, insulting the president, relations with groups that oppose the regime, being contact with foreigners. In general, these are known as the “corrupt on the earth.”
Rooz: These charges are political whereas the government media say that your husband was operating immoral and porno websites.
Mrs. Eftekhari: This accusation of operating porno sites is a complete lie. Saeed was not operating any web site and had nothing to do with any such sites. Anyone who knows Saeed, from Sharif University to those in Canada will attest that he has nothing to do with such sites. The same charges were also aired against Hossein Derakhshan who is a well known blogger and nobody believed those either. Saeed has no record in writing for web blogs or being a human rights activist. When I was interrogated they kept shouting at me that I was in contact with foreigners! And I told them I lived in a foreign country so what did they mean by that. Then they said that I had been in contact with the US embassy. The fact is neither my husband nor I belonged to any political group and have not engaged in political activities and do not claim to be political. But the charges that they are raising are political and the way they are treating him and his case indicates that the whole issue is a scenario which they are promoting to make political use of his situation.
Rooz: Why did they choose your husband for their scenario? What was his job?
Mrs. Eftekhari: Because we are completely unknown and people who are not popular or know are most vulnerable. What Kayhan wrote about my husband helped me understand how these security agents view things and why my husband was chosen for their dirty goals. I the past, they had focused on this issue of “cultural invasion by the West.” We had lived for years in Canada. Politically we were not even known to anyone. They were looking for a victim for their Internet problems. Saeed was a web designer and worked for the site Freelancer Account. He received requests for websites there, as did others who were also listed on the website. As a freelancer he presented proposals to website development requests and if they were accepted, he would take up the work and receive a fee for it. The intelligence officers in Iran wanted to denounce the Internet and tell people that it was a dangerous thing. This is why they forced Saeed to make false confessions and then showed this on national television. They even tried to say that Saeed used his webcam to video people’s bedroom. This was done to create panic and fear among people about the Internet. They had told Saeed to say that he had purchased software from Britain that could be used to video a room even if the computer was shut. This is not technically possible to do, but these gentlemen wanted to send that message. My husband is merely a victim of the plans of these people.
Rooz: What do you think of the televised confessions?
Mrs. Eftekhari: They have aired his so called confessions several times while he still remains only a suspect. But they treat him as if he is a criminal. His sentence has already been passed in their minds, which is why they allow themselves to air someone’s so called confessions before the person has even had a chance to defend himself and no sentence has been passed on him. These confessions were all made under duress and torture and have no validity. Saeed has said this in court. My question is how come you can air these so called confession on national television, but when it comes to Saeed’s defense you close the court session to the public.
Rooz: You had earlier said that that your husband’s family was under intense pressure from security apparatus. Is this still true? What kind of pressure?
Mrs. Eftekhari: Yes, both my parents and the family of my husband are under pressure. Threatening telephone calls are made and they formally and explicitly told us that if we gave any interviews, Saeed’s case would become worse. We have no place to express our protests. And so when we talk, they pressure my husband. They air his so called confessions again. They broadcast them again just two weeks ago. After Saeed’s letter was published, they took him back into solitary confinement and told him a lie that his sister had been arrested. When he came out of the solitary confinement he was wrecked. He was willing to accept anything they wanted so long as they released his sister and stopintimidating his family.
Rooz: You have decided to give an interview now; what was holding back before?
Mrs. Eftekhari: They used to promise me regularly in the past that if I did not give any interviews Saeed would be released quickly. And for three months we did not know where Saeed was being kept and they would not tell us. Then on the anniversary of his father’s death, they broadcast his so called confessions on national television, which is when we learned that they had been lying to us. So we decided to talk to the media etc. I will not remain silent now and will do everything I can so that the public knows that none of the accusations against my husband are true and that they are all lies. Perhaps public pressure will result in a fair trial.
Rooz: What is it that you want concerning your husband’s case?
Mrs. Eftekhari: We are not even asking them to just release Saeed. All we want is a fair trial. An open and fair trial where he has the opportunity to defend himself. We are not requesting the trial be aired because he is innocent. We want them to respect the current laws of the country and stay neutral in the case and let those who know these technical issue be the judge.
Rooz: Your last words?
Mrs. Eftekhari: The judge has already sentenced Saeed to death. We are deeply concerned. Do not forget about us. Even the defense attorney is under pressure and has been threatened. Do not forget about my husband and help us. He is really innocent.