Kaveh Kermanshahi spent 80 days in solitary confinement and was frequently tortured and forced to make a televised confession before being released on bail in May 2010. He now lives in exile in Germany. In 2011, Human Rights Watch awarded him the Hellman-Hammett grant.
Name: Kaveh Kermanshahi
Born: 1984, Kermanshah, Iran
Career: Journalist; blogger; human rights activist; worked with Radio Zamaneh and Rooz Online news sites.
Charges: Propaganda against the regime, activities against national security and contacting the families of prisoners of conscience.
Law graduate Kaveh Kermanshahi began reporting in 2003 via his blog, which was frequently blocked by government-led filtering. He was one of many human rights activists and journalists were arrested by the authorities following the disputed presidential election of 2009.
On February 3, 2010 seven agents from the Intelligence Bureau in the provincial capital of Kermanshah searched Kermanshahi’s house, confiscated his laptop and personal papers and took him to the bureau’s detention center. Kermanshahi was charged with propaganda against the regime for giving interviews to foreign media outlets, “disrupting national security” in connection with his founding role in the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization and for contacting and visiting the families of political prisoners and deceased political activists.
He was detained for four months and, according to Human Rights Watch, no one knew his whereabouts for most of that time. “His mother and other family members repeatedly went to the prosecutor’s office and the prison to try to glean information about where he was being held,” the organization reported. “In response, the authorities arrested his mother, his 75-year-old aunt, and two cousins, interrogating and threatening them for hours. They were freed only after they promised to stop trying to find out where he was.”
He spent 80 days in solitary confinement, during which he was abused and tortured into giving a televised confession and admitting to being a spy. “Unfortunately I was once severely beaten by the prosecutor who’d come to the detention facility to inform me of the charges against me,” he told Human Rights Watch.
In protest of his treatment and the conditions at the detention center, Kermanshahi went on hunger strike for a week. He was released on bail on May 23, 2010 while he awaited his trial.
The lower court presided over by Judge Moradi sentenced him to five years in prison. He appealed and the appellate court, presided over by Judge Mohammad Ali Roshani, reduced the sentence to four years. Kermanshahi fled Iran and crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan.
“I didn’t want to leave because I thought I’d be vindicated in court,” Kermanshahi later said. “But this didn’t happen.” He spent nine months in Kurdistan until his friends secured him asylum status in Germany, where he works as a journalist and human rights activist.
In 2011, Human Rights Watch awarded him the Hellman-Hammett grant, which is awarded to writers who continue their advocacy work despite oppression.
For more information, visit Journalism is Not a Crime, documenting cases of jailed journalists in Iran.
This is part of IranWire’s series Crime: Journalism, a portfolio on the legal and political persecution of Iranian journalists and bloggers, published in both Persian and English.
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