Report: Iran Used Secret Judiciary Squads to Torture Journalists and Activists

Human Rights Watch has released a new report with evidence that the Iranian judiciary employed secret interrogation squads to torture Internet journalists and political activists in an effort to gain "confession letters" from them.

Evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch confirms that secret squads of interrogators—primarily former intelligence officers purged in the late-1990s by President Mohammed Khatami but now employed by the judiciary—forced the detainees to write these “confession letters” under extreme pressure as a condition for their release on bail. In an attempt to cover up the government’s illegal detention and torture of detainees, interrogators have coerced them to write self-incriminatory letters that describe detention conditions as satisfactory and confess that civil society organizations are part of an “evil project” directed by “foreigners and counter-revolutionaries.”

Human Rights Watch has documented an extensive pattern of forced confessions by political detainees who have later retracted their statements, which they have attributed to their interrogators. The Iranian government continues to pursue a project to strangle critics and activists, one that Human Rights Watch documented in the report, “Like the Dead in Their Coffins.”

Democracy dies behind closed doors. Secret detentions, interrogations and squads in Iran. Secret arrests, detentions, interrogations and closed door hearings in the U.S. The Bush/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft Administration may be the most secretive administration ever. With the array of new powers contained in the 9/11 Intelligence Reform Bill, we are sliding backwards. Democrats in Congress should take their blindfolds off.

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