Kidnapped Cleric Seyyed Mohammad Ali Mousavi Pens Letter from Prison
Seyyed Mohammad Ali Mousavi Motaghi, an Iranian cleric abducted from Lebanon and rendered to Iran in late 2015, has penned an open letter from Evin Prison. The original Persian text, dated February 2 – the fourth day of Mousavi’s ongoing hunger strike – was published by the Human Rights Activists News Agency on Monday, February 13.
Mousavi’s story expresses clear violations of due process and international law at the hands of Iran’s security forces, external proxies, and judicial system. He describes being kidnapped by Hezbollah operatives in southern Beirut on December 15, 2015 (Mousavi had fled Iran with his family after being threatened with legal consequences over a planted firearm.) The abduction marked the beginning of more than two years in the hands of shadowy state and semi-state actors. During his time in Hezbollah custody “in the worst kind of psychological and physical conditions,” Mousavi reports being “deprived of all rights” and subjected to solitary confinement and 30 hours of interrogation. Interrogators applied “indescribable psychological pressure” in an effort to force the cleric to falsely confess to espionage charges which he had been cleared of in 2008, pledging to return him to Iran “as a national hero” provided that he collaborate.
Mousavi rejected the bargain, and was illegally rendered to a Damascus prison under Baath Party command on June 26, 2016. Here was turned over to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, who flew him back to Tehran on a civilian flight. At the Tehran airport Mousavi was arrested by Intelligence agents and given over to Hossein Mehrnoush, Operations Officer of the Special Court for Clerics. Charges were read against Mousavi at Branch 2 of the Clerics’ Court, and he was then taken to Ward 209 of Evin Prison.
In Evin, Mousavi was again subjected to solitary confinement and aggressive interrogation. A turbaned cleric conducting the questioning insisted repeatedly: “I’m not an interrogator; I’m here to help you. I’ll give you a new, healthy, and comfortable life on the condition you cooperate fully.”
Mousavi again turned down the offer. After listening to Mousavi’s statements for a single hour, Judge Akbari of the Branch 2 Clerical Court handed down his verdict a few days later: two years’ prison for “propaganda against the regime,” one year prison for “insulting the Imam and Supreme Leader,” and six months’ ta’zir punishment.
At the time of writing, Mousavi had spent over 45 days in Evin’s Ward 325, reserved for clerical prisoners, marking 414 days since his initial abduction.
Mousavi concludes his statement with a call to freedom-loving people the world over to sympathize with his plight, asking the human rights community to raise awareness of the “obvious injustice” in his case.