Allameh Tabatabaei university student activist Arash Sadeghi was first arrested July 09, 2009, during the suppression of post-2009 presidential election events. He was released without being charged after 50 days in solitary confinement .
Sadeghi was re-arrested December 2009 after the mass street protests of Ashura. He was later released on March 16, 2010.
After his release, Sadeghi was informed by his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, that Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Pirabbasi, had sentenced him to 6 years imprisonment on charges of: “Propaganda against the establishment, and assembly and collusion with intent to act against the national security”.
Arash did not report to Evin for the implementation of his sentence. For this reason, agents attempting to arrest him, raided his home on October 26, 2010 at 4:00 AM. The shock of this raid caused Arash’s mother to suffer a heat attack. She died four days later in the hospital.
After this event, Arash Sadeghi reported to Evin on 21 December 2010. During this incarceration, according to eye witnesses that were his cellmates, Sadeghi was tortured severely, trying to force him to formally announce that the death of his mother had nothing to do with the 4:00 AM raid of their home.
At the time, in an interview his father said, “One of the cruelest tortures that Arash suffered was the interrogator pulling out his body hairs one by one. He had fallen unconscious many times by being slapped so hard over and over, and had suffered a broken tooth.”
Former political prisoner Payman Aref who was Sadeghi’s cellmate at the time, told Deutsche Welle, “When they brought Arash to Ward 350, he had a broken collarbone and could not raise his right arm.”
A year later, on December 14, 2011, Arash was released from prison.
On January 5, 2012 the Green Voice of Freedom site reported the arrest again of Arash Sadeghi. Five days later, Saham News site reported that Arash had contacted his grandfather from Evin telling him he is in Ward 209.
On May 4, 2012, independent reporter, Masih Alinejad conducted a phone interview which was published online. In this interview, Sadeghi’s father said that Arash’s grandfather had visited Arash at Ward 209 visiting room, and said he had lost a considerable weight and his head was shaved. According to Payman Aref, a number of families of political prisoners had attested to seeing Arash’s grandfather in the visiting room.
On June 7, 2012 Arash’s grandfather was arrested after giving an interview to the press informing them that Arash had launched a hunger strike in support of political prisoner Hossein Ronagi. He was released after five days in detention.
In June of 2013 reports came out that Arash had launched a hunger strike, in protest of being beaten by prison guards.
After this news, Amnesty International and 3 of the European Union MPs released statements voicing concern over Arash Sadeghi’s situation.
Start of rumors and concerns:
According to reports, Arash Sadeghi’s family has neither had a visit or a phone call from him since May 2012.
The Prosecutor General and Judiciary Spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejee, during a press conference on September 9, 2013, in response to a question about Arash Sadeghi, said, “It has been said that this person has launched a hunger strike in Evin prison, but such a person was not in Evin on 2011 nor on 2012. Of course, in 2009, a person with this name was arrested and sentenced to one year imprisonment and was released after serving his time. But even if there was a similarity in name, such person was not in Evin in 2011 or 2012.”
This was the first time that a Judiciary official made any comment regarding Arash Sadeghi. After the comments by Ejee, two different opinions formed in the online community. One opinion believes that, based on this statement made by the Judiciary official, Arash is not in prison and his family must be asked abut his whereabouts.
A source who claims to be Arash’s close friend and who wishes to remain antonymous told Deutsche Welle that, “Their opinion (the first group), is not only based on the comments made by Ejee, but because there has been some dishonesty and inconsistency in the past, therefore we can conclude that part of the truth is not being revealed.”
According to this source, after his first arrest Arash Sadeghi, had said he was a member of Central Council of the Islamic Society of Allameh Tabatabei University which was subsequently denied by the secretary of the Society. Also, he had claimed he was majoring in philosophy but later it was found out that his major was Arabic literature.”
He also said the worst of these inconsistence issues was regarding Arash’s sentence, he said, “Arash and his family told everyone that he had received a 6 year imprisonment sentence. However, after he received his official notice of his sentencing, all his cellmate saw was that he was actually sentenced to one year imprisonment and five years suspended sentence, and he was released from prison after serving his one year.”
But former political prisoner Payman Aref who was in prison at the same time as Arash has a different version to tell. He told Deutsche Welle that, “The lower court had given Arash a six year imprisonment sentence, and his lawyer was informed of this sentence (not formally). Based on this Arash said he was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment.
Arash finally reported to Evin December of 2010 after the death of his mother. Being under the impression that he was under a six year sentence, and due to the trauma of loosing his mother, was suffering from depression, and he did not request an appeal on his case.
Based on the fact that he had no access to a phone, and his lawyer Mr, Tabatabaei did not come to visit him in prison, Arash was not aware of the Court of Appeals ruling in his case.
The Court of Appeals upheld the 6 year sentence. However, it did change it to one year imprisonment and five years suspended sentence. According to Arash’s interrogators, they showed mercy because of his mother’s death and changed his sentence. Two weeks prior to the end of his one year imprisonment sentence was when Arash finally found out about the Appeals Court’s ruling. This was the entire story and there was no lying on the part of Arash.”
The hunger strike in prison and release from prison story:
The person who claimed to be Arash’s close friend has another reason for considering Arash’s story not to be true, and that is the news about his hunger strike and falling unconscious due to his hunger strike.
Regarding this matter, Payman Aref said, “If he is talking about Arash’s hunger strike protesting the death of Haleh Sahabi, I do confirm that he was on hunger strike at the same time as I was. He even became very ill during his hunger strike and vomited all the content of his stomach right there in the middle of the Ward and there was nothing but fluid and there was no food particles in his vomit.
Regarding his falling unconscious, I must say that was a certain political group’s plot to ruin the reputation of Arash. He told me to ask my wife to deny this news, which I did. If he has spread this false news about himself then he would have not asked me to deny the news on his behalf.
The other point that the person claiming to be Aresh’s close friend makes, is about his release from prison in 2010. He says, “We were informed by one of the people who had been released from Ward 350 about Arash’s release date. That night and three other consecutive nights we were by Evin’s door waiting to congratulate Arash on his release. But on Friday when we were there waiting for his release we found out that Kaleme site had reported he had already been released.
Two days later Arash sent me an SMS (text message) saying that he had already been released but did not have my number to inform me earlier. He said he had not gone to his home but had gone to stay with his grandfather.”
And here is Payman Aref’s account of Arash’s release in 2010: “I myself went to Evin to welcome Arash, I had myself informed all the people that had gathered in front of Evin. December 15, 2010 was the date that Arash was scheduled to be released. I myself was in Ward 350 of Evin with Arash from November 30, when I was arrested at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery until December 11, 2010.
Four days prior to Arash’s release, I went to Court and subsequently was released that same night. After my release I informed everyone of Arash’s sentence having been reduced to one year imprisonment, and also gave the date of his release which was to be December 15 (four days after my release).
December 15 was a Thursday. On that day, I and a number of other people went to Evin and waited for him but he was not released.
Apparently, the night before his scheduled release date at 10:00 PM, in the cold of a December night they had released Arash.
Because Arash’s father had distanced himself from him over the death of his mother, and also had changed his residence, Arash had no place to go and also did not have any money.
He started walking on foot on Imam highway towards the south. He walked all night long so he would not freeze in the cold of the night. He then went to the Khaneh Honarmandan park (the Artists park), a place which held lots of memories for him. He was under the impression that his grandfather had also banished him.
Finally, tired and hungry, he decided to try his luck at his grandfather’s home. Fortunately his grandfather welcomed him with open arms.
After two days of waiting by Evin for Arash’s release (Thursday and Friday), I and the others decided to contact his father. He told us he had no news about Arash. Finally we found out through Arash’s uncle that he had been released and was staying with his grandfather.”
Payman Aref stresses that, Arash was released on Wednesday December 14 at night time from Ward 350 and not from solitary confinement. With 200 political prisoners at Ward 350 wishing him farewell, there is absolutely no doubt about this matter.
Arash Sadeghi’s father is in the military and lives in army provided housing. Previously speaking with the media, he said he had been summoned by the Army Intelligence many times and was threatened not to have any contact with Arash. Otherwise, he would be discharged from the military, his salary would be cut off and he would lose his housing privilege.
Deutsche Welle’s efforts to contact Arash Sadeghi’s father and his former lawyer have been to no avail.
After calling Arash Sadeghi’s father’s home for several days, a woman finally answered the phone. She first said that Arash’s father was out of town. Then she said that we are all out of town now and our phone has been redirected to the place where we are.
Arash’s former lawyer Alizadeh Tabatabaei’s cell phone was turned off each time Deutsche Welle tried to contact him.
Currently several campaigns have launched asking the question “Where is Arash”. Most of these campaigns are targeting the Iranian Intelligence and Judiciary system for answers considering their terrible history of kidnapping, arbitrary arrests and imprisonments.
And yet another group continues to be of the opinion that Arash’s family must be held accountable for giving answers in this case.
What is certain is that no one has seen Arash Sadeghi since May 2012.