Fars News Fabricates Letter By Student Activist
In an unprecedented move, on 1 June 2010, Fars News Agency published a fabricated a letter of resignation by Morteza Semyari, secretary of the Cultural Commission of Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat student organization. In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, one of Semiyari’s friends said that the letter was written by Fars News Agency and Semiyari saw it for the first time on Fars’ website. According to this student activist, intelligence authorities have complete access to Fars News Agency and published the letter originally written by interrogators. Interrogators of detainees have begun efforts to prevent them from refuting contents of the letter.
In this method of “reverse confession” there is no confessor. As forced confessions have become less prevalent, interrogators have begun writing and publishing the confessions they wish detainees to make. Then under intimidation and threats, detainees are prevented from denying the contents of their ‘confession’. Morteza Semyari has been under immense pressure to not deny knowledge of the letter. Under the threat of imprisonment, Semyari has said he will repudiate the letter.
In the past several years Fars News Agency has become known as the source for forced confessions, acting as the press branch of security and intelligence circles. In several cases pertaining to political detainees, interrogators have instructed detainees to go to Fars News Agency to publish their confessions. Some of the “reporters” of this news agency are considered to be intelligence officers and have been present during certain interrogations. This recent action by Fars News Agency clearly shows the utilization of media towards the intimidation and abuse of individuals who refuse to give in to their interrogators’ illegal demands.
In the Fars News Agency’s article, “A member of the illegal Allameh Group formally announces his separation from this organization,” the text states, “Following the illegal exit of Mohammad Sadeghi, a member of the central council of Advar-e Tahkim Organization, and his residence in a PJAK Organization base inside Turkey, Morteza Semyari, Secretary of Social Unit of the illegal Allameh Group formally announced his separation from this organization.” The news agency’s “University Reporter” is quoted in the report. In the fabricated story, Semyari’s reasons for his separation are said to be “A consulting session with the Etemad Melli Party, as well as gatherings at anti-revolutionary circles,” “failure to follow the internal guidelines for following and maintaining the revolutionary, Imam [Khomeini], and the Supreme Leader’s achievements vis a vis westernized thinking, particularly the US government as manifested in the presence at the Berlin Conference, European Union, and the US Congress,” as well as “deviation of thought and ideals and penetration of liberal and Marxist groups and surrender to anti-revolutionary groups inside and outside the country.”
The following is the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran’s interview with a friend of Morteza Semyari’s who is a student activist:
Campaign: As a student activist, do you know whether the letter from Morteza Semyari published on Fars News Agency’s website is authentic or not?
I spoke with him yesterday and he was completely unaware of the letter. He denied his resignation from Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat. His email account was hacked after he was arrested last December, and it is now controlled by other individuals. Unfortunately, there was a lot of pressure on him during his detention and after his release to do interviews or to publish material which was dictated by security organizations. So far, he has not accepted to do these things. He was contacted at home by a security organization yesterday. They said that they had published his letter of resignation and using his email, they had also sent it to his friends. This is how Mr. Semyari found out about the publication of the letter of resignation.
Campaign: Does he intend to deny the Fars News article?
Mr. Semyari is working on a statement to deny the letter. He will send it to Fars News Agency and according to the Press Law, they will have to publish his letter. Mr. Semyari has been threatened that if he denies the letter, he would be returned to prison. Even so, he has decided to send an official letter of denial to Fars News Agency.
Campaign: Considering that the publication of such a fabricated letter could have led to a denial, what do you think was the motivation behind publishing it? Had they discussed this with Mr. Semyari before?
Look, considering the intolerable pressure put on him and his family during the recent months, security outfits try to threaten him with long-term prison sentences to keep him from denying the news. Mr. Semyari first found out about the letter through reading it on Fars News Agency’s website.
Campaign: What is the condition of the other students in prison? Is the same kind of pressure being placed on them?
Yes, especially in the coming days on the threshold of June 12. Not only the students, but all those who were detained and those who were released on heavy bails are under pressure not to deny the forced words of their interrogators on government media.
Campaign: You mean they have abandoned the traditional forced confessions, and are now publishing the confessions and putting pressure on people not to deny it?
Yes, this is the new method. Of course the traditional methods are also still pursued. But for those who resist pressure, such dirty tricks are played. After this text was published on Fars website, Mr. Semyari’s health has deteriorated to the point of having been hospitalized twice.