During the past 2 weeks, the Cyber Intelligence Unit of the Revolutionary Guards Corps has badgered and threatened several political prisoners, demanding that they agree to confessions for broadcast on Iran’s state run television.
Human Rights House of Iran is very concerned about the reinstatement of Saeed Malekpour’s death sentence, and the revival of the IRGC efforts to extract false confessions from political prisoners under duress.
During the past week, 3 imprisoned web developers Saeed Malekpour, Vahid Asghari, and Hossein Ronaghi Maleki were removed from their cells and interrogated by agents from the Cyber Intelligence Unit of the Revolutionary Guards. These agents who are affiliated with the unit battling organized crime, put great pressure on the prisoners and demanded that they make false televised confessions.
The country’s judiciary, intelligence units, and Revolutionary Guards have a need for “televised confessions” to substantiate their allegations of supposed security crimes.
Human Rights House of Iran points out that these unjust sentences are so obviously illegal that the interrogating and intelligence agents now ask the prisoners to make false confessions for broadcast in return for guarantees such as being granted furlough, having sentences reduced and being transferred to a public ward. This also indicates the degree in which the judiciary and the judges who issue these types of verdicts are under the influence of the intelligence agencies.
The family of blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki said to Human Rights House of Iran, “On Tuesday of last week, the interrogators transferred Hossein to solitary confinement and put immense pressure on him, demanding that he agree to making a televised confession.” The agents alluded to the possibility of furlough if Hossein were to cooperate, a right which he has not been granted since he was imprisoned.
Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was arrested on December 3, 2009 and sentenced to 15 years behind bars. Last Saturday interrogating agents told Hossein the reason for this heavy sentence was that he had never been willing to cooperate with them.
On Saturday, imprisoned death row blogger Vahid Asghari was also transferred to solitary confinement and under severe duress was coerced into making another false confession. This imprisoned blogger has been suffering from acute psychological distress due to the relentless torture he was subjected to when he was detained.
On May 8, 2008 Asghari was detained at Imam Khomeini Airport as he was attempting to travel back to India for his thesis presentation and graduation. He was transferred to prison and has been behind bars since then.
Last week Judge Salavati presiding over Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court issued the death sentence for blogger and student Vahid Asghari who had before his detainment been perusing his undergraduate degree in India.
After the sentencing was handed down, agents from the Cyber Intelligence unit of the Revolutionary Court intimidated Vahid into taking part in the recent televised confession in exchange for a promise of a reduced sentencing and a transfer to the public ward of Evin prison.
Saeed Malekpour has now spent almost 11 months total between solitary cells (6mos) and small cramped cells holding a few prisoners in Ward 2A of Evin prison which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards and not in the jurisdiction of prison authorities.
Saeed Malekpour, 35 years old, is an Engineering graduate from Sharif University and a web developer who has been held behind bars since his arrest in October 2008.
In November 2010, judge Moghiseh presiding over Branch 28 of the revolutionary court sentenced Saeed to death stemming from the charge of “corruption on earth.” This sentencing was initially struck down but was recently reinstated by the Supreme Court.
In June 2011, after Saeed’s lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh presented the facts disputing the charges along with his criticism of the unjust sentencing of his client, the Supreme Court acknowledged that there were discrepancies in the case and asked for a further inquiry and review of the indictment. However recently in an illegal proceeding, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court with no warning and without adhering to the Supreme Court’s recommendations reinstated the death sentence.