Accessibility links

Breaking News


Officials on phones at the Iranian Interior Ministry in Tehran (file photo)
RFE/RL's Radio Farda has obtained an audio recording that offers disquieting insight into the methods being employed by Iranian officials during the current clampdown.

The listener, who called the station's voicemail service on the uneasy anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution (he says SMS service was not working on February 11), recorded a phone call he received a week later from a man claiming to be from the Isfahan offices of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence.

The listener is summoned -- in no uncertain terms, including a threat of "scalping" -- to appear for questioning at the Intelligence Ministry's local offices.

He recorded the entire conversation and e-mailed it to Radio Farda. What follows is a complete transcript.

-- How are you?
-- Thanks.
-- Is Ms. Ashraf Nouri the owner of the phone line?
-- Yes.
-- How are you?
-- Thanks.
-- So the phone line is hers, yes?
-- Why are you asking? Yes.
-- Are you Keyvan?
-- Yes, I am Keyvan.
-- How are you?
-- Thanks.
-- I'm calling you from the local office of the Ministry of Intelligence. OK?
-- OK.
-- Are you listening?
-- Yes.
-- OK, write down our address and my phone number.
-- OK.
-- Isfahan... Bozorgmehr Street... after it intersects with Golzar... local office of the Ministry of Intelligence.
-- And then what?
-- Did you write that down?
-- Yes.
-- Now write down my phone number... 222-43-18... My name is Sohrabi.
-- OK, Brigadier General Sohrabi, yes?
-- Yes. Be there before three o'clock, I have something to tell you.
-- What do you want to say?
-- Come there, we'll talk. And if you don't come, I'll come to your door and bring you here.
-- OK, thank you.
-- Listen! If you don't show up, I'll come to your door and handcuff you. I'm warning you.
-- OK, I've recorded everything that you've said just now and I'll post it on the Internet.
-- You can send it wherever you want.
-- OK.
-- If you don't show up, I swear to God that I'll scalp you.
-- OK.
-- And I want you to post my words [on the Internet]. I have more to say... If you don't show up before three, I'll scalp you.
-- OK, thank you.
-- Don't forget. At three, I'll be waiting.
-- I'm in Mobarakeh, Sir.
-- Wherever you are. I don't care.
-- Behave yourself. I'm in Mobarakeh and I can't be there before three [o'clock]... I'll come in the next few days.
-- Listen! Wherever you are...
-- I called [Radio Farda] and said the SMS system wasn't working. Did I lie?
-- Listen! I have your address. If you don't show up, then I'll come and handcuff you and then you'll be ashamed in front of the neighbors. I want to talk to you.
-- I won't be ashamed, you'll be ashamed.
-- OK, we want to be ashamed.
-- OK, so do it.
-- When will you come?
-- I'll come on a working day [not on a weekend].
-- When?
-- Today I can't come. I have guests.
-- When will you come?
-- What day is today?
-- Today is Thursday.
-- I'll come on Sunday.
-- Sunday at what time?
-- I don't know. Sunday morning.
-- What time? I want to give you a chance. So later you don't say that we didn't inform you or ask you to come by yourself. I'm giving you a chance.
-- Are you giving me a chance?
-- Yes. I want you to record my voice and send it there [abroad].
-- Sure I will.
-- Do it for sure.
-- OK.
-- When will you come?
-- I told you, on Sunday.
-- Sunday at what time?
-- I'll come whenever I want to, not the time that you are telling me. I'll come on Sunday.
-- OK, if tonight you don't show up, then I know what to do.
-- I'll come on Sunday.
-- If you don't come tonight, I'll arrest you tonight.
-- You can take me even to Evin prison. What can be worse than that?
-- If you don't show up tonight, then I'll show you what can be worse. Bye.
-- Bye.
Maksim Popov
Evidence has emerged that an anti-AIDS campaigner in Uzbekistan was sentenced to seven years in prison after authorities deemed his brochure incompatible with local traditions.

Twenty-eight-year-old Maksim Popov, who heads anti-AIDS nonprofit Izis, was arrested in January 2009 and sentenced in September.

But details of the sentencing, in a country where information is tightly controlled, have come to light only recently.

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports that Popov is currently serving his jail term in Uzbekistan's Navoi prison.

Izis is funded by a number of foreign donors, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Britain's Department for International Development.

The Russian-language booklet at issue, "HIV and AIDS Today," gives detailed information about preventive measures to avoid the deadly disease, including the importance of sterile syringes for drug users and ways to practice safe sex. It explains, for example, how to use condom.

In a society where discussing sex is taboo, the court found the brochure amounted to a how-to guide for young people to have sex and use drugs.

The court declared the booklet's contents "illegal" and ordered all copies seized by police and immediately destroyed.

Strongman President Islam Karimov, who has ruled for more than 20 years, takes a dim view of dissent and authorities are highly suspicious of even apolitical NGOs.

Load more

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More