More Detained Social Network Users: Forced Confessions Feared
The IRGC Intelligence Unit has arrested two individuals active on Facebook, in a continuing wave of arrests against Internet and social media users and professionals. Mohammad Amin Akrami and Mehdi Rayshahri Tangestani are the latest detainees of IRGC, according to Kaleme Website.
Over the past two weeks there have been numerous arrests of IT professionals, and in a recent video bearing the IRGC logo, several of these arrested men were shown on national TV handcuffed and in prison garb and accused of being spies in Kerman Province.
“As reported on Sunday, December 1, recently the IRGC Intelligence Organization has expanded its activities on social networks and in a news vacuum has begun a new round of detentions. The detentions are not limited to Tehran, but a majority of the detainees have been moved to the IRGC’s Ward 2-A inside Even Prison [in Tehran], and they have remained under interrogations for a long time,” reports the Kaleme website.
Mohammad Amin Akrami, who was living in India, returned to Iran about six months ago, and has been in IRGC detention under interrogation since late November. Mehdi Rayshahri Tangestani, who is active on social networks, is from Shahin Shahr in Isfahan Province, and was arrested by IRGC’s Intelligence Unit about a month ago in Tehran, according to Kaleme.
In a previous report, Kaleme wrote that IRGC interrogators have been able to access popular Facebook pages not through hacking capabilities, but by extracting their access passwords from detainees under torture. The report added that many of the arrests in other cases are also happening after the IRGC commandeers the Facebook pages.
There have been reports that under physical and psychological abuse and threats, the Internet activists detained inside the IRGC ward have been forced to give television interviews in which they have made confessions against themselves and condemned social networks such as Facebook.
Dadkhoda Salari, Head of Kerman’s Revolutionary Court said on December 14, that “after months of complex intelligence work, with God’s help, an MI6 [British intelligence service] spy” has been identified and arrested. “The aforementioned suspect established 11 counts of in-person contact with UK intelligence officers inside and outside the country, and at each meeting delivered the said intelligence service’s desired information, and has, of course, received a series of instructions from the British Intelligence Service against the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” according to the news article. “This spy’s trial is in progress and the suspect has confessed to his crimes,” Saleri added.
Forced confessions – frequently obtained under torture – are often the only “evidence” presented by Iranian security organizations when prosecuting Iranian civil society activists and dissidents.