Saleh Mohammadi, a 31-year-old nature enthusiast from Tehran, was severely beaten and arrested by security forces during anti-government protests in September.
Mohammadi spent a total of 136 days in pre-trial detention during which his jailers tried to coerce him into giving a “confession” about crimes he did not commit, a practice routinely used by Iranian authorities.
He is now serving a prison sentence solely for exercising his right of freedom of expression, as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Mohammadi is one of thousands of Iranian activists, journalists or ordinary citizens who have been illegally detained, subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and prosecuted for exercising their rights since the eruption of nationwide protests five months ago.
Mohammadi had just returned from a trip to Kenya when he joined Tehran protests on September 25 that were violently dispersed by security forces.
During his arrest, plainclothes agents of the Ministry of Intelligence sprayed tear gas on his face and dragged him to the ground, an informed source told IranWire. The back of his head was hit with the butt of a gun, which caused severe swelling and intense pain for at least 10 days.
During Mohammadi’s harsh interrogations in the custody of the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran’s Evin Prison and Greater Tehran Prison, the officers first tried to force him to admit that he was a protest leader.
In subsequent interrogations, they wanted the prisoner to “confess” his involvement in "setting fire to rubbish bins," "tearing down street fences," and "throwing stones" at security forces.
Mohammadi rejected all these accusations and refused to sign a letter of repent, emphasizing that he was peacefully fighting for freedom.
Once, Mohammadi was interrogated by Mohammad Reza Naqdi, a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Under the title "Conversation with one of the protestors,” Iranian media published an abstract of a December speech by Naqdi in which he mentioned this interrogation session.
According to IranWire’s source, Naqdi was enraged with the responses of the inmate. Upon leaving, the IRGC commander instructed the interrogators to continue until they get information about Mohammadi’s contacts outside Iran.
Mohammadi was sentenced to five years in prison by Branch 15 of Tehran Revolution Court on the charge of "gathering and colluding against national security."
This sentence was later upheld by Branch 36 of Tehran Revolutionary Appeals Court.