Posts tagged: political prisoners

Grim fates for prisoners with ties to foreigners (Source: Los Angeles Times)

By , October 30, 2009 7:34 am

The news blog of the LA Times is updating the situation surrounding the cases of Kian, British embassy employee Hossein Rassam, and the three American hikers detained in Iran:

“No mercy for those accused of trying to topple the Islamic Republic.

Britain on Thursday protested a four-year jail sentence apparently imposed on one of its senior employees at its embassy in Tehran accused of spying and fomenting violence.

Hossein Rassam, 44, who served as chief political analyst at the British Embassy in Tehran was sentenced in a closed courtroom earlier this week, according to The Times of London

In other developments, an Iranian human rights group is claiming that judiciary officials in Iran refuse to let a lawyer file an appeal on behalf of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian American scholar sentenced to 15 years in jail for allegedly stirring up trouble during recent protests…

The reports of Rassam’s sentence and the refusal of Tajbakhsh’s appeal surfaced as Britain, the U.S. and other major powers considered Iran’s reply to a proposed deal by the United Nations’ atomic watchdog intended to ease international tension over its controversial nuclear program…

Miliband urged Iranian authorities in his statement to overturn Rassam’s sentence, which he said constituted an “attack against the entire diplomatic community in Iran.”

He warned of gloomy consequences for Iran from countries other than Britain should the sentence not be overruled…

Among other charges, Tajbakhsh was found guilty of “acting against national security,” “spying and connections with foreign elements against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic” and “causing lack of public trust toward the official national organs and the ruling system by instigating rioting, mayhem, fear and terror within the society,” according to a statement issued by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

According to Iranian law Tajbakhsh has 20 days to appeal, but the rights group claims that Iranian judiciary officials have rejected multiple attempts by Tajbakhsh’s lawyer to file an appeal in what the group calls a “blatantly illegal act.”
When Tajbakhsh’s lawyer protested to judiciary officials, he was said to have been told: “It’s our law, so we can do what we want with it.”

The scholar has spent the months since his July arrest in Tehran’s Evin prison. He was previously kept in solitary confinement but was recently transferred to a villa on the prison compound, where he lived with a number of other high-profile detainees including a former vice president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, according to the New York Times.

Tajbakhsh is now said to be back in solitary confinement.”

[Full article]

Kian sentenced by Revolutionary Court to “more than 12 years” in prison: Family and friends denounce unlawful sentence and demand Kian’s immediate release

By , October 20, 2009 12:19 pm

Family and friends of Iranian American detainee Kian Tajbakhsh are shocked and outraged by the news that he has been unjustly sentenced in an extra-judicial proceeding to more than 12 years in prison and are demanding his immediate release.

Kian has endured solitary confinement in an undisclosed location for nearly four months broken only by long hours of interrogations without access to his own lawyer and with only occasional brief, supervised contact with family members, who remain extremely concerned about his mental and physical well-being.

The baffling charges being lodged by the Revolutionary Court linking Kian together with high-ranking Iranian reformists purportedly plotting to overthrow the regime with American support are entirely baseless.

As an independent scholar Kian is neither a member of the Iranian reformist movement nor in contact with any foreign headquarters inside or outside Iran, and has had no involvement in pre- or post-election unrest.

Kian has been denied access to his own legal representation and the Swiss consulate, but was nevertheless convicted within the context of an extra-judicial show trial.

Therefore, attempts by Iran’s judiciary to block his release despite the efforts of senior Iranian officials to free him clearly violate not only Iran’s international legal obligations but also the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

دادگاه انقلاب کیان را به “بیش از 12 سال” زندان محکوم کرد
. خانواده و  دوستان  کیان این حکم غیر قانونی را  رد
میکنند و خواستار آزادی هر چه سریع تر او  هستند
خانواده و دوستان کیان تاجبخش از خبر محکومیت او نگرانند
و خواستار آزادی  فوری او هستند. کیان مدت چهار ماه است
که در زندان انفرادی و در محل نا معلومی به  سر میبرد. در
این مدت  انزوای او تنها  با بازجوئی های طولانی بدون
دسترسی به وکیل منتخب خودش  و ملاقات های کوتاه مدت با
خانواده اش زیر  نظر ماموران زندان  پاره میشود.  خانواده کیان
بسیار نگران وضعیت جسمی و روانی او هستند. اتهامات عجیب و
بی پایه ای  که دادگاه انقلابی به کیان نسبت داده او را
با مقامات بالای موج رفرمیست  ایران مربوط کرده و او را
مسول  شرکت در توطعه ای  با  همکاری امریکا برای بر اندازی
رژیم ایران میداند.  کیان یک دانشگاهی و محقق مستقل است.
او  هیچ رابطه ای با جریانات رفرمیستی در ایران و یا
مراکز خارجی در داخل یا خارج ایران  ندارد و هیچ گونه شرکتی
در جریانات  اعتراضی بعد از انتخابات در ایران نداشته است
.
کیان اجازه دسترسی به وکیل  منتخب خود و یا رابطه با
کنسولگری سوئیس در ایران را ندارد. با این حال در  دادگاهی
نمایشی و غیر قانونی محکوم شده است.    دخالت سیستم قضائی
برای  جلوگیری از آزادی او علارقم  کوشش های  مقامات
بالارتبه ایران نه تنها در تضاد با مسولیت های بین المللی ایران
است  بلکه   قانون اساسی جمهوری  اسلامی را نیز زیر پا
میگذارد.

Kian Tajbakhsh, Iranian-American Academic, Gets 12 Years for Election Unrest (Source: Associated Press)

By , October 20, 2009 12:18 pm

Media outlets around the world are reporting the shocking and disturbing news that Kian has been issued to a long prison sentence by a revolutionary court:

“TEHRAN, Iran — Iran ignored appeals by Hillary Rodham Clinton and even rock star Sting and sentenced an Iranian-American academic to 12 years in prison Tuesday for his alleged role in anti-government protests after the country’s disputed presidential election.

The sentence for Kian Tajbakhsh was the longest prison term yet in a mass trial of more than 100 opposition figures, activists and journalists in the postelection turmoil.

At the same time, Iran allowed another defendant to leave the country – Canadian-Iranian Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek journalist arrested in the same crackdown who had been freed on bail over the weekend.

Bahari joined his British wife, who is in the last days of her pregnancy, in London, Newsweek said on its Web site Tuesday. It was the first word that Bahari had left Iran…

Bahari’s release could be a concession by Iran to international pressure. But Tajbakhsh’s heavy sentence signaled that Tehran was sticking to a tough line overall on the political unrest. It came amid calls in Iran for the prosecution of the most senior opposition figure and suggestions that three American hikers, detained after accidentally crossing into Iran, could face charges.

Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, was arrested by security forces at his Tehran home July 9 – the only American detained in the crackdown that crushed giant street protests by hundreds of thousands of people after the June 12 election. The opposition claims the vote was rigged in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian C. Kelly said Tajbakhsh should be released immediately, saying he poses no threat to the Iranian government or its national security.

Washington has repeatedly denounced his arrest. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed in August for his release, and he was specially named in a call by the British rock star Sting to free all political prisoners in Iran.

“Family and friends of Iranian-American detainee Kian Tajbakhsh are shocked and outraged by the news,” said Pam Kilpadi, a friend of Tajbakhsh who is working on a book with him. She described the charges as “baffling.”

“As an independent scholar Kian is neither a member of the Iranian reformist movement nor in contact with any foreign headquarters inside or outside Iran, and has had no involvement in pre- or postelection unrest,” said Kilpadi, a doctoral researcher at Britain’s University of Bristol currently based in Cambridge, Mass.

Tajbakhsh’s lawyer, Houshang Azhari, told the official IRNA news agency that he would appeal the conviction on charges of “acting against national security.” He said the law prohibited him from divulging the full details of the sentence and would only say it was “more than 12 years.”

The appeal could open an avenue for freeing Tajbakhsh. An Iranian-American journalist who was arrested this year, Roxana Saberi, was convicted of espionage but freed on appeal in what was widely seen as a political decision to defuse tensions with Washington.

Tajbakhsh, 47, had been targeted by Iranian authorities before. In 2007, he was arrested on similar charges while working for the Open Society Institution, a pro-democracy organization run by American philanthropist George Soros – a figure Iran has often cited as part of the anti-government plot. He denied the charges and was released after four months in prison.

Afterward, Tajbakhsh left the Open Society Institution and remained with his family in Iran, working on a book.

Weeks after his arrest in July, Tajbakhsh appeared in the mass trial of opposition figures. Many of the defendants delivered courtroom confessions to a plot to topple the government – admissions that opposition groups said were forced from them.

At his turn to speak during an Aug. 25 court session, Tajbakhsh appeared to try to speak only vaguely about foreign interference in Iran, saying that “undeniably this was a goal of the U.S. and European countries to bring change inside Iran” – although he said he had no direct knowledge of any plot.

The court has issued convictions against a few Iranian opposition figures, sentencing them to five or six years – all far shorter than Tajbakhsh’s, although three others accused of belonging to what Iran considers terrorist groups were sentenced to death.

“It’s obviously completely politically motivated,” said Arien Mack, a psychology professor at The New School in New York City, where Tajbakhsh taught urban policy until 2001. She said that since his 2007 arrest, Tajbakhsh had focused on his academic work, avoiding politics.

“As far as I know, he did not even vote in the last election” in Iran, she said…”

[Full article]

Interview (Source: Foreign Policy)

By , October 16, 2009 7:21 am

In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Iranian American academic Haleh Esfandiari urged officials to continue exerting pressure to secure the release of Kian and other Iranian political prisoners:

“FP: Do you see any sea change among Iranian-American intellectuals regarding engaging with Iran?

HE: I’ll talk about myself because each of us has a different opinion on this issue. I still believe in engagement. But in Geneva two weeks ago and next week in Vienna, when [the Western powers and Iran] sit and talk, the human rights issues must also be on the table. They should not just focus on the nuclear issue. That’s what the Iranians would love to do. But no, they should also talk about the human rights issue, because it’s very important.

Look, we have three American hikers sitting in jail somewhere in Iran. You have an Iranian-American, Kian Tajbakhsh, sitting in jail… Plus, there are thousands of Iranian activists who are sitting in jail. Talk about them — talk about them all the time! What really helped me get out was this international pressure, day in and day out…”

[Full article]

Son of leading scientist dies in jail as fears grow over fate of Iran’s political prisoners

By , July 28, 2009 7:07 pm

Fears are mounting over the safety of hundreds of political inmates in Iran’s most notorious prison following the deaths of two prisoners detained in the recent post-election unrest…

Campaigners are also concerned for the safety of Kian Tajbakhsh, an American-Iranian scholar said to be under pressure to confess involvement in an alleged western plot to orchestrate the protests following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

[Original Article]

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Family and Friends of Detained Iranian American Scholar Kian Tajbakhsh Strongly Deny Accusations by Iranian Authorities and Denounce Iran’s Use of Forced Statements by Political Prisoners

By , July 16, 2009 5:37 pm

In Iran’s first official acknowledgment of Kian’s arrest on July 9, Iranian Press TV reported on Monday that “Iranian authorities detained Tajbakhsh on grounds of cooperating with Hossein Rassam, the head of the security and political division of the British Embassy in Tehran, who is also in custody over post-election turmoil.”

These false accusations are entirely groundless. Those who know Kian understand that his persecution by Iranian authorities is not only tragic but ironic—as a social scientist and urban planner he has always sought political neutrality in an effort to bridge cultural divides and honor his much-loved homeland. His work is a valued asset that the Government of Iran should seek to protect.

The Iranian state television report on Kian’s arrest also notes that “Iran blames foreign powers, the US and Britain in particular, for what it calls interference in its internal affairs and post-vote disturbances, which have claimed the lives of at least 20 people.”

We are concerned that Kian is being held in an attempt by the Iranian authorities to obtain forced statements from him to use in a televised show trial. It is exceedingly important that we all strongly denounce Iran’s serial practice of extracting forced statements from political prisoners. Such statements are repeatedly extracted under conditions of torture for the sole purpose of staging televised show trials in an attempt to deceive the Iranian public.

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