“On September 26, 2009, 10 Revolutionary Guards entered our home and took me to Cell Block 2A”, said Masoud Hoseini Lavasani, who had worked for state-run news agencies. Prior to his arrest, and that of his wife and son in 2010, members of Iran’s hardline media were among those who warned Lavasani that his work could get him in to trouble.
Name: Masoud Hoseini Lavasani
Born: 1979, Tehran, Iran
Career: Journalist and blogger; worked with Fars and Mehr news agencies.
Charges: Conspiracy and activities against national security, insulting the Supreme Leader and spreading lies through blogs and emails.
On November 29, 2009 Judge Pir Abbasi sentenced Masoud Hoseini Lavasani to eight years in prison and banned him for life from practicing journalism. The sentence was subsequently reduced to six years in detention with a 10-year long ban on journalism.
Lavasani, who now lives in Turkey, told IranWire the following about his arrest and incarceration:
“On June 16, 2009, I received a call from a reactionary reporter threatening my arrest. I’d met him in the past at Foreign Ministry events, where he’d told me to be careful.
“Videos and pictures that I had produced were widely shown on Persian-language TV channels, including a well-known one about Majid Ansari [currently Vice President for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs], which was aired by BBC Persian.”
“Every day more of my colleagues were arrested,” he said. His report “Disaster in Revolution Square” followed events of the June 20, 2009 rally that resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people who had gathered to protest against the results of the presidential election. “Security forces fired on demonstrators,” Lavasani said.
“I wrote the report under a pseudonym and sent it to the Rooz Online website and Radio Zamaneh,” a Persian-language media organization based in Amsterdam that broadcasts online and via satellite.
“I left Tehran for a while and took my wife and son with me. In mid-September when the wave of arrests subsided somewhat, we went back to Tehran but on September 26, 10 Revolutionary Guards entered our home and took me to Cell Block 2A”, which is exclusively run by the Guards. “Interrogators accused me of propaganda against the regime by publishing news and reports on Persian-language sites and for doing interviews with BBC Persian. Another charge against me was that I’d been invited to visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg and the EU Council in Belgium.
“When the special cell block for political prisoners was set up, I was moved there. In June 2010 I contracted shingles and had to be hospitalized in the prison’s hospital.
“After a month I was released on bail”, which cost $300,000. “And was able to prove how I’d been beaten by Revolutionary Guards while I was detained. A little later I was called to the prosecutor’s office at Evin and was arrested on charges of aiding my wife and son, who were arrested separately by the Intelligence Ministry. I spent about 12 hours in detention.
“I was arrested for a third time in front of my home in March 2012 and was sent to the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center. I was released two days later but I was frequently summoned to the Intelligence Ministry. On January 27, 2013, also known as ‘Black Sunday’ because it was the day newspaper offices in Tehran were raided, security agents went to our house in Karaj to arrest me but couldn’t do so because I was in Tehran.”
“For over a month I lived an underground life, moving from town to town until I eventually escaped the country. The media run by the Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards claimed I’d gone to London.”
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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