close button
Switch to Iranwire Light?
It looks like you’re having trouble loading the content on this page. Switch to Iranwire Light instead.
switch sites
Features

Two Star Students Interrogated and Tortured to Confess

April 14, 2021
Milad Pourisa
5 min read
A year has passed since the Ministry of Intelligence arrested students Amir Hosseinmoradi and Ali Younesi, who were studying at Sharif University of Technology
A year has passed since the Ministry of Intelligence arrested students Amir Hosseinmoradi and Ali Younesi, who were studying at Sharif University of Technology
Ali Younesi, the gold medalist of the World Astronomy Olympiad, was arrested on April 10, 2020 "after being severely beaten by officers,” who gave no reason for his arrest
Ali Younesi, the gold medalist of the World Astronomy Olympiad, was arrested on April 10, 2020 "after being severely beaten by officers,” who gave no reason for his arrest
The spokesperson for the judiciary accused Moradi and Younesi of having links to opposition groups, including the People's Mojahedin Organization
The spokesperson for the judiciary accused Moradi and Younesi of having links to opposition groups, including the People's Mojahedin Organization

The trial of two students due to take place on April 11 has been postponed, baffling and alarming their families, supporters and human rights groups. 

A year has passed since the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Amir Hosseinmoradi and Ali Younesi, two students from Sharif University of Technology. Since their arrest, their trials have repeatedly been postponed. 

Ali Younesi, who was awarded a gold medal by the World Astronomy Olympiad in 2017 and a silver medal by the National Astronomy Olympiad in 2016, was arrested on April 10, 2020  "after being severely beaten by officers.” No reason was given for his arrest. On the same day, security forces also arrested student activist Amirhossein Moradi. They are being held on Ward 209 at Evin Prison, which is under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence. During this period, they have often been kept in solitary confinement. 

On Sunday, April 11, Ali Younesi's lawyer Mustafa Nili announced that the first court hearing for his client and fellow inmate Amir Hosseinmoradi had not gone ahead, despite the date having previously been set.

He said that he had not been made aware of the reason for the trial postponement, despite the involvement of both lawyers and judges on the case. Nili added that the students have not been allowed to meet with their lawyers since their arrest and that they had been charged with "corruption on earth.” Etemad newspaper reported in September 2020 that the two students were not even allowed to have a court-appointed lawyer for the first 100 days of their detention.

In an interview with Emtedad, Mustafa Nili expressed frustration that the two men had not been granted a fair trial. He said authorities had completely ignored all the principles of a fair trial. He added that the Ministry of Intelligence acted illegally on several occasions — including organizing a meeting at the Tehran Prosecutor's Office, during which Moradi and Younesi were forced to confess in the presence of their classmates and professors. Nili told the paper that he worried that "unless he gives a TV interview, he will not be released from Evin security ward."

Confessions of “Sabotage”

The attempts to extract forced confessions took place on July 13, 2020, when intelligence ministry interrogators and the head of the Tehran Security Court brought Amirhossein Moradi and Ali Younesi to the Palace of Justice in Tehran and pressured them to admit to “sabotage.” This followed agents' public humiliation of the pair in front of their classmates and Sharif University officials by showing a video of the students being charged with carrying out explosions at public buildings.

According to a report released on the Sharif University Students' Islamic Association Telegram channel, during the meeting, Amin Naseri, the head of the security court, demanded an explanation from Ali Younesi regarding the films but that "Ali had said that he was reluctant to do so." However, the Telegram report said the court official "insisted" again that he provide an explanation and pressured him in front of university officials and fellow students, urging him to confess.

Two months prior to the meeting, Gholamhossein Esmaeili, the spokesperson for the Islamic Republic's judiciary, accused Moradi and Younesi of having links to opposition groups, including the People's Mojahedin Organization, also known as Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), and carrying out subversive operations on behalf of these opposition groups. He, like the agents, also claimed that "explosive items" had been found in the two students' homes.

The students and their families have vehemently denied the allegations. Immediately after Esmaeili's remarks, Ali Younesi's sister Aida Younesi referred to the allegations as "ridiculous" on Twitter.

During the first months of his detention, Amirhossein Moradi's brother and sister repeatedly protested against the pressure ministry agents’ had put him under, reporting on Twitter the attempts they made to force him to confess. However, since then, Moradi’s family has remained quiet and have refused to talk to the media. The Islamic Republic’s security forces have a long history of exerting pressure on the families of political prisoners, and it could be they have achieved what they wanted: silence, at least for now.

While in prison, the two students contracted coronavirus and their health deteriorated for a period of almost a month. Despite this, they were not entitled to temporary release as some other political prisoners were.

A Year On

As the pair marked a year in Evin Prison, their families and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have again expressed alarm and concern, saying they fear the students may be under pressure to confess on state television, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. Given the history of the Islamic Republic’s treatment of political prisoners, Mahmood Amiry Moghadam, the director of the Iran Human Rights Organization, said, "we are concerned about the pressure on Amir Hossein Moradi and Ali Younesi to stand in front of a TV camera and make a televised confession.”

Moradi and Younesi have faced pressure to make confessions on more than one occasion. In November 2020, prison officials pressed them to give a television interview. According to sources close to their families, they were ordered to confess to “prevent being executed."

Despite the Iranian regime’s long history of violating the rights of prisoners, Moghadam said that keeping two young political prisoners in a security ward, especially after their case has been processed, was unprecedented; "Our deep concern in this case is the continued detention of these two students in Ward 209 of Evin Prison," he told IranWire. He admitted he didn't know what the significance of the prolonged incarceration in that specific ward might be, especially since their trial dates have been set. As others have, Moghaddam points out the long lapse between the arrests and trials. He said the fact that the trial did not go ahead on April 11 as planned could suggest that authorities do not have any evidence — even fabricated evidence — to convict the two students. 

He went on to say that the harassment of the two students is likely an attempt to terrify the public, and in particular students and young people who might be tempted to speak out for their rights — “laying the groundwork for the repression and intimidation of the student movement." The judiciary and the Ministry of Intelligence have stepped up their illegal activities in recent years, which has been interpreted as direct retaliation against the protests of late 2017 and early 2018, further protests in November 2019 and the protests in January 2020 in response to the Revolutionary Guards’ downing of an Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane, which killed all on board. 

Related Coverage:

Students Who Protested Downing of Ukrainian Plane on Trial

Imprisoned Elite Students Under Pressure to Confess on Iranian Television

Tortured and at Risk of Execution for Taking Part in 2018 Protests

comments

Features

Faezeh Hashemi Crosses Several Regime Red Lines on Clubhouse

April 14, 2021
IranWire
8 min read
Faezeh Hashemi Crosses Several Regime Red Lines on Clubhouse