Paris, 4 Sept. (IPS) In a dramatic change of methods, the Islamic Republic has replaced the decades-long humiliating, shameful, degrading but above all unproductive broadcast on radio and televisions of confessions obtained from dissidents in prisons by “voluntary interviews”, as seen by the interview “offered voluntarily” by Mr. Ramin Jahanbaglou, the prominent Iranian scholar, philosopher and researcher to the semi-official ISNA news agency on 31 July 2006.
“A very excited, agitated man stormed the Agency, almost shouting I’m Dr. Ramin Jahanbaglou. I wanted to be interviewed. I’ve just been released from Evin” (prison).
This is how the Iranian Students News Agency described the arrival of Mr. Jahanbaglou at the agency’s head quarters in Tehran, “immediately after being freed on bail and even before going to his family and then for a much needed rest and peace “far from the media”.
I was arrested on 25 April and I accepted the charges of acting against national security and having contacts with foreigners
The arrest of the scholar, who has also a Canadian citizenship on 25 April on his landing in Tehran coming from India provoked an international outcry, with hundreds of Iranian intellectuals inside and outside the country signing petitions and international human rights organization urging the Iranian authorities for his “immediate and unconditional release”.
In his first public interview with Iranian news agencies one week after the arest, Intelligence Minister Hojjatoleslam Qolamhoseyn Mohseni Ezhe’i revealed that the university professor was arrested “on suspicion of assisting the U.S. in its efforts to provoke a velvet revolution in Iran”.
“I was arrested on 25 April and I accepted the charges of acting against national security and having contacts with foreigners”, Mr. Jahanbaglou told the three female journalists, adding immediately, “I was freed today. Honestly, I knew that people from all over the world would begin calling me as soon as I got home. I wanted to speak to someone to calm down”, he said, repeating and reiterating that during the four months he spent at Evin prison, he was “never treated harshly”.
“One prefers to speak on his own accord than to be compelled to talk to the media under pressure”, he said, explaining his strange decision to come to ISNA and “emptying himself”. “The interrogators were very polite to me and I was never treated in an inappropriate manner”, he insisted, adding “I accepted the charges of acting against national security and having contacts with foreigners. But I did not accept the charge of espionage”.
According to many Iranian intellectuals who had been in prison in Iran and subjected to the previous methods of forced “confessions”, what Mr. Jahanbaglou told ISNA is “exactly the same thing he would have said in a televised confession. The difference is that what he did is, in the view of the new men in charge of the dissidents, this kind of “instant interview” is more convincling.
“But Mr. Jahanbaglou’s interview does not fool anyone”, said Mr. Ali Keshtgar, the Editor of the monthly “Mihan” magazine in Paris, in an article entitled: “What the Evin University Did With Mr. Jahanbaglou?”, a reference to the authorities that call the notorious Evin prison as a “university”.
“I used to write articles about Iran and the Middle East in some Web sites which I was not aware were linked to intelligence services. I was sliding gradually, from what I thought was intellectual researches and works to what it was really: political activities against the interests of my country”, the philosopher admitted.
“I was not subjected to any physical and mental pressures. My interrogators were polite. They told me that I had contacts with such and such and I told them yes. They asked me if I thought I was acting against national interests, and I said I was acting against national interests… I was arrested for having ties to U.S. organizations”, Mr. Jahanbaglou added.
Continuing relentlessly, as ISNA put it, Mr. Jahanbaglou said: “I had ties to American organizations from 2001 to 2006. In fact, one particular organization, which offers scholarships and organizes events, invited me to some of its conferences. There I came into contact with some U.S. State Department officials as well as others. At some of the conferences I attended there were a number of American and Zionist intelligence agents. These contacts continued until finally, in one of my trips to attend a conference in Europe, I met a former advisor to Clinton who was also the head of the German Marshall Fund”.
"They (the Americans) take various NGO members abroad to educate them. Recently, some people have been officially invited to be trained in the U.S. under the pretext of attending scientific seminars or for business or employment. The initial financial assistance given to them is not enough to arouse the suspicion that they have been invited to be trained as spies", Mr. Mohseni Ezhe’i had claimed during his press conference about the reasons behind Mr. Jahanbaglou’s arrest.
“My arrest had to do with “velvet revolutions”, explained the scholar, “and there were concerns about the people that I had invited to Iran. The German Marshall Fund had proposed a grant for a comparative research project on the role of Eastern European intellectuals and civil society in bringing down communism. The problem was to find ways of empowering intellectuals and non-governmental organizations in Iran”.
“Colour, Velvet, Orange revolutions”. This is exactly what Mr. Mohseni Ezheh’i had said in his press conference, charging Mr. Jahanbaglou “on suspicion of assisting the U.S. in its efforts to provoke a velvet revolution in Iran.
“The importance of means at the disposal of Mr. Jahanbaglou as well as his relations and communications attracted the attention of the (Intelligence) Ministry of him. Some of his activities were absolutely organized and organizational, point out to his mission”, the Intelligence Minister had then said.
If at that time, Mr. Mohseni Ezhe’i did not produced any documents proving Mr. Jahanbaglou’s involvement in any illegal political activity, four months latter, the professor bring them out of his sleeve, saying: “I accepted acting against national security through having contacts with foreigners and being part of a network. I accepted the charge of acting against national security but did not know that what I was doing was against national security”.
“What Mr. Jahanbaglou has said in his interview is exactly in line with the spirit of the leader, Ali Khameneh’i or the President, Ahmadi Nezhad
“In my opinion,” Jahanbegloo continued, “at least part of the scholarly community and elements within the civil society are in danger of doing what I did. I see many who receive conference invitations and grants, and who are contacted by American organizations. It is possible for them too to become part of networks that undermine national interests and what can be called ‘Iranian values.’ I am talking about civil society in general. Even those within the government can fall into this trap unknowingly”.
“What Mr. Jahanbaglou has said in his interview is exactly in line with the spirit of the leader, Ali Khameneh’i or the President, Ahmadi Nezhad, the theory of plots, warning Iranians, particularly the intelligentsia, against meeting anyone who is not a “khodi” (one of ours) because they are all enemies of Islam and the Islamic Republic”, points out Mr. Keshtgar, asking “how comes that an intelligent man like Mr. Jahanbaglou has not realized, as he says, what kind of people come to his lectures until he went to the Evin University?
In fact, in his interview with ISNA, Mr. Jahanbaglou, a graduate of the prestigious French Sorbonne University and other leading cultural and scientific institutions, warns Iranian scholars and intellectuals against attending international conferences organized by Western NGOs or other think tank centres or universities, “where one might meet American or Zionist agents disguised as researchers or scientists, a capacity some of them have”.
“They (NGOs and research foundations) had placed me in a path that I lately realized I’m caught in a chain of events. This could await others, as I was going to conferences where intelligent agents and Zionist elements were also present”, he admits, using the word “Zionist” which is the usual jargon employed by Iranian officials to designate Israelis.
“In his (Khameneh’i) sick mind, the Enemy” is not America per se. It is a secret group of people, let’s say some 15 to 20 members from Western nations, all without visage, probably directed by a Zionist and flanked by an American and a British Jew, acting against the whole world, including the United States, but particularly against Islam and the present Islamic regime of Iran”, explains Mr. Mohsen Sazegara, a former founder of the Revolutionary Guards turned dissidents and struggling for a “smooth regime change”.
Asked why he has lost weight, Mr. Jahanbaglou says “prison environment has its own conditions”, but quickly adds that after the fist month he spent in solitary confinement, he was treated “well, access to radio, television and newspapers. Even things for writing. Food was all right and surprised see everyone has access to good medicare”.
In his ISNA “voluntary interview”, Mr. Jahanbaglou, interestingly denied reports of having confessed on tape while in custody, asking angrily, “Who has claimed such a thing? In any case, no one from the judiciary talked to me about such a thing and I decided to talk on my own”, he said, referring to the Attorney General Dorri Najafabadi stating two weeks ago that the scholar had accepted his confessions being tapped and that the confessions would be released soon on State Television.
“Jahanbegloo has agreed to broadcast his confessions on national television,” Najaf-Abadi told reporters, “whether or not they would be broadcasted, that’s another issue.” In a separate interview, the judiciary’s spokesman, Karimi Rad, confirmed that a taped confession had been made. Prior to these interviews, hardliner daily Resalat had reported that Jahanbegloo’s confession tape had been screened at a certain “cultural” institution (the “Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution,” some analysts speculated), the London and Paris-based internet newspaper “Rooz” (Day) close to the reformers said.
“My real plan now is to return to the original project that I was working on prior to my arrest. I had traveled to India to study the culture. I want to go back to India and, god willing, publish my research in one or two volumes. That will take up a couple of years of my time”.
“What they have done to Jahanbaglou to confess exactly same things as Keyhan (hard line newspaper, a mouthpiece of Mr. Khameneh’i), corresponding exactly to the sickening plot theory of the leader and Ahmadi Nezhad?” asked Mr. Keshtgar, adding :This kind of interviews is the same old televised confessions under different name”. ENDS JAHANBAGLOU CONFESSIONS 4906