March 24, 2021
The Iranian judiciary’s Secretary of Human Rights Affairs has claimed that foreign political prisoners and hostages in Iran are sometimes unwilling to go back to their countries of origin.
In a statement cited by the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, Ali Bagheri Kani said widespread concern about the maltreatment and poor conditions faced by political prisoners in Iran was a political “game” played by “Western governments”.
Earlier this month the Iranian judiciary had extended an informal offer to the US to participate in further prisoner swaps for foreign nationals being held in Iran.
“In cooperation with other countries,” Bagheri Kani said, “we were willing to exchange some of the citizens of those countries, so that they can continue their sentences in their country.
“Sometimes prisoners from other countries who are in Iran are not willing to go from Iranian prisons to their own prisons.”
The Iranian-American dual nationals currently being held in Iran include Siamak and Baquer Namazi and the conservationist Morad Tahbaz. All three were jailed on spurious espionage charges and are not considered to be guilty of any crime in the US.
Bagheri Kani also alluded to “recent statements by Western officials” about the dire treatment of political prisoners in Iran, saying they were “a continuation of Western political games to put more pressure on Iranian officials in various international confrontations, which has not yet led to the desired outcome of the West”.
In recent weeks, a deluge of reports of ill-treatment and abuse of political prisoners in Iran have made headlines around the world. Many of these accounts were provided by the prisoners themselves, their Iranian lawyers, their families and Iranian human rights activists.
Earlier this month Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian researcher who was imprisoned in Iran for two years before being exchanged for three Iranians jailed over a bomb attack in Thailand, spoke of the trauma and suicidal thoughts she had experienced in solitary confinement. The experience, she said, caused her physical pain and “gravely damaged my mental health”.
In the week leading up to the Nowruz holiday, despite the ongoing spread of coronavirus in Iranian prisons, a number of Iranian political prisoners including Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Kasra Nouri, Sepideh Gholian and Esmaeil Abdi have been transferred between prisons for unknown reasons.