Tehran’s Evin prison. (ISNA))

August 31, 2021

The Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice) hackers who last week circulated footage from security cameras showing prisoner abuse at Tehran’s Evin prison have sent Iran International a copy of a letter dated January 22 2020 from Gholamreza Mohammadi, the prison’s security chief, to another prison official, a caretaker who is not named, ordering heightened security measures including the protection of classified information.

Mohammadi noted that additional security measures had to be taken due to the possibility of “terrorist operations and suicide attacks” on the prison following street protests in November 2019 and the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran. He called the atmosphere of the country “emotional” and warned that “anti-revolutionary groups” would exploit the situation by accusing the authorities of “infighting, fear of the United States, incompetence…, lying, concealment of truth, [and] spending government money to pay compensation for the Revolutionary Guards’ mistakes [in downing the plane].”

The Ukrainian plane was shot down by a mobile missile battery, operated by Revolutionary Guards, on January 8 during a heightened alert after Iran fired missiles at United States bases in Iraq in response to a US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and nine others.  Iran’s explanation on January 11 for shooting down of the plane, killing all 176 aboard, led to protests in some cities.

The November 2019 protests began in response to a price increase in fuel on 15 November and spiraled into nationwide unrest for over a week with lethal force used against “rioters.”  Amnesty International reported the killing of at least 304 protesters including at least 23 minors, while  Reuters claimed that three interior ministry officials had confirmed a death toll of 1500.

Tapandegan, an Iranian “hacktivist” group, distributed video images from security cameras in Evin, which it said had been taken August 22-24 and obtained by previously unknown hackers called Edalat-e Ali (‘Ali’s Justice’) to highlight human rights violations, particularly against political prisoners. Tapandegan said would release further footage as well as political prisoners’ case files and other confidential documents.

The head of Iran’s Prisons Organization, Mohammad-Mehdi Haj-Mohammadi, last week promised “serious action” against those responsible for “unacceptable behavior” and that some prison staff had been laid off and were under investigation but other officials, including Iranian Judiciary’s First Deputy Mohammad Mosaddegh, have denied allegations of torture and prisoner abuse and claimed that the scenes seen in the videos were ” taken from places other than prisons and assembled” by hackers.

The release of the videos which suggest prisoners’ physical abuse is normal practice — as officers and guards witnessing the abuse in the videos do not interfere to stop the violence — has caused an uproar and universal condemnation by activists and thousands of ordinary Iranians on social media. In a statement Friday, 28 political prisoners in Evin prison said such physical abuse and torture were common and demanded an investigation of psychological torture of political prisoners and their families as well and urged international human rights organizations to scrutinize prison conditions in Iran.

Iran International

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Track 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.