A general view of Evin Prison in the Iranian capital Tehran, undated. (Supplied)

By Aida Ghajar

October 9, 2021

A notorious interrogator with Evin Security Court has reportedly been detained by the Iranian judiciary. Behrouz Shah Mohammadi is said to have been arrested 10 days ago and is now on Ward 241 of Evin Prison, alongside some of the very same political and “security” prisoners that he previously interrogated.

Elham Zolfaghari, the wife of Mehdi Mahmoudian, a civil activist in prison, was among those to share the news on Twitter. “Behrouz Shah Mohammadi,” she wrote, “an interrogator with Branch 7 of Evin Prosecutor’s Office, who has sentenced hundreds of people to years in prison, including Mehdi Mahmoudian (four years for lighting candles mourning victims of the Ukrainian plane [the downing of Flight 752 by the Revolutionary Guards in January 2020]), is now in Evin prison on charges of [either] theft or espionage.”

A source close to the case told IranWire that Mohammadi had been detained by the judiciary’s intelligence office, and was being held in Ward 241 of Evin Prison. Mohammadi’s name is well known on both sides of the prison walls due to his track record not just of issuing arbitrary arrest warrants, but of blocking medical leave and cancelling planned releases on bail.

Prominent Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested in 2018 on the orders of Behrouz Shah Mohammadi. It came at a time when she was representing several Iranian women facing criminal charges for protesting against mandatory hijab.

Around the same time, Intelligence Ministry agents raided the homes of several other civil and women’s rights activists including Farhad Meysami, who was later jailed by Branch 7 of Evin Prosecutor’s Office on spurious security charges and for “insulting the hijab”. Fellow activist Jila Makvandi, whose home was also raided, later published court papers on Twitter that indicated Mohammadi had ordered an extension to Meysami’s solitary confinement.

Mohammadi also helped to prosecute labor rights activists who supported the striking workers at Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Factory in Khuzestan. He intervened in the cases of Sepideh GholianEsmaeil Bakhshi, Amir Hossein Mohammadifard, Sanaz Alahyari and Amir Amir-Gholi, warning them after their first court appearance in May 2019 that they would face heavier sentences if they spoke to the media.

Later on, in the aftermath of the group’s sentencing – to a collective 110 years in prison – that September, a relative told IranWire Esmaeil Bakhshi had faced additional jail time because of an Instagram post he’d made two years before about Neda Agha-Soltan, a woman shot dead by security forces during the 2009 Green Movement protests. “This charge wasn’t brought against Esmaeil during the interrogation,” they said. “But Behrouz Shah Mohammadi of Branch 7 added it to Esmaeil’s charge list in his indictment.”

Separately, Mohammadi also blocked Sanaz Alahyari’s bail and opposed the young activist being taken to hospital when he fell ill behind bars. He also issued the repeat arrest warrant for another labor activist, Hirad Pirbodaghi, in February 2020, and reportedly told Sepideh Gholian’s family: “Don’t waste your time; your pursuit [of her case] won’t get anywhere.”

Mohammadi has also been accused of sexually harassing female prisoners of conscience at Evin. In an interview with IranWire 18 months ago, a former inmate using the pseudonym Roya said: “From the very moment of my arrest, everyone, from the provincial prosecutor’s representative to interrogator Behrouz Shah Mohammadi and judge Mohammad Moghiseh, humiliated and harassed me because of my sex. They’d tell me, ‘What were you doing with all those men? Don’t you have an owner? You should be catcalled on the street!’. During the interrogation, I was faced with all kinds of sexual insults and allusions.”

No official has yet commented publicly on the arrest of Behrouz Shah Mohammadi, and it is not clear how or why the detention came about. One thing is for certain: it won’t be in relation to his treatment of any of these people, some of whom might well now be his cellmates.

Iran Wire

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.