Iran makes arrests in connection with death of blogger

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Shabakeh-ye Iran has reported that three interrogators of the blogger and online activist Sattar Beheshti have been arrested in connection with his death. The death of Beheshti was reported last week when his family received a call from the authorities to retrieve his body from the Kahrizak detention center’s coroner’s office.

The General Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ezhei also confirmed to journalists that evidence has been found of “the effects of bruising in five places” on Sattar Beheshti’s body.

The admission comes after much confusion and obfuscation over whether Beheshti had in fact died under torture at the infamous Kahrizak detention center, the very same detention center where a number of other young Iranians had died and allegedly endured physical and psychological abuse after Iran’s controversial 2009 presidential election.

This admission by Mohsen Ezhei conflicts with earlier comments by Ato’allah Boroujerdi, head of the Majles’ Commission for National Security and Foreign Policy, and who had been appointed to follow up on Beheshti’s case and how he had died. Boroujerdi had claimed  based on “preliminary information” there was no evidence of assault on Beheshti’s body.

The Reformist albeit banned party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has condemned on their affiliated website, Nowruz News, the torture and death of Sattar Beheshti in very forceful terms.

During the same news conference Mohseni Ezhei also stated that “special privileges” have been given to Mehdi Hashemi, son of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, which have not been given to other prisoners. Last week, the hardline Raja News alleged that while in hospital Hashemi had had prepared numerous “fatty” foods and snacks, before undergoing a heart angiography.

Mohseni Ezhei responded to a statement issued by the Rafsanjani family which had been critical of the authorities’ treatment of Mehdi and his transfer from hospital back to Evin prison. Mohseni Ezhei stated that doctors had confirmed that Hashemi’s heart was healthy, adding, “I must say that we like to pay attention to every prisoner as is possible, but it is not feasible for us to provide whatever the families of prisoners want.”

The head of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s political bureau, Mohammad Jafar Behdad, has said that certain groups, i.e., the Basij and Revolutionary Guards, though Behdad doesn’t mention any organization by name, compare the president in their “internal bulletins” to former President Abdolhasan Banisadr who was ousted and forced to flee the country and Masoud Rajavi, the leader of the much maligned People’s Mojahedin of Iran.

Both leaders fell out with and eventually found themselves marginalized by forces loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founder, and forced into exile in the early years of the revolution.

International perspectives

Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s advisor on international affairs and a prospective presidential candidate has claimed that “more than 90% of the people in Syria who are at war against the government and people of this country are not Syrian.” Velayati made his remarks at the inauguration of the new Islamic Awakening News Agency.

The First Vice President, Mohammadreza Rahimi, told reporters today while attending an exhibition pertaining to the scientific and medical research of Tehran’s universities, that, “With the grace of God, prayers of the Leader and support of the President, we will circumvent sanctions and break the outstretched hands of Obama towards Iran and we will succeed.”

The former chief of the Revolutionary Guards and senior military advisor to the Supreme Leader, Yahya Rahim Safavi, has claimed, “The US had requested Iran for setting up a direct hotline and Iran rejected the request.” US officials had in the past alluded to the prospect of establishing a hotline with Iranian authorities in order to avoid potential clashes and the possibility of such clashes escalating into a full-blown conflict between Iran and the US.