A Blog Written By Roozbeh Mirebrahimi
Roozbeh Mirebrahimi is an Iranian journalist who lives in New York City.
I was arrested in fall 2004 because of my work as a political editor for several reformist newspapers in Iran, as well as my critical comments about the regime on my blog and on other Web sites.
I spent 60 days in solitary confinement, where I was released only three times a day to use a bathroom for two to three minutes under camera surveillance. I was interrogated and tortured for days on end. Security agents blindfolded me and beat me repeatedly, pushing my head into the wall and onto a desk. They asked me questions about my relations with other journalists, particularly women, and with Westerners, and they constantly insulted my family.
I felt alone and was afraid for my life. I had no contact with the outside world — not even a newspaper. The interrogators told me — convinced me — that my friends and colleagues had forgotten about me. While in prison, I was charged with eight different counts of “participation in societies,” “propagating against the state,” publication of lies, “insulting the leader” and public disturbance. I was given no opportunity to defend myself.
After 60 days, I was released on bail because of international pressure and help from government reformists. In November 2006, I secured a lectureship at Princeton University and left Iran. In February 2009, the court sentenced me to two years’ imprisonment and 84 lashes. Two other charges are still under review.
The most important thing for Roxana Saberi is continued international pressure. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s letter urging Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the chief prosecutor, to re-examine the case is a good sign, as is Mr. Shahroudi’s order for a review (note that this is not the same as an appeal). With Mr. Shahroudi’s order, I am very hopeful about Ms. Saberi’s case.