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Iranian Reformist Cleric Decries Prison Torture

Reformist Hamzeh Karami wrote an open letter to Iran's chief prosecutor
Reformist Hamzeh Karami wrote an open letter to Iran's chief prosecutor
Reformist Iranian cleric Hassan Yusefi Eshkevari has described as "shocking" a recent letter by a political prisoner detailing ill-treatment in jail, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Eshkevari was speaking to Radio Farda on August 25 about the open letter by Hamzeh Karami to Chief Prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei.

Karami, the chief editor of a reformist website, "Karami" was detained following the June 2009 Iranian presidential election and reportedly tortured into making a false confession of illicit sexual relations with relatives of opposition Green movement leaders.

In his letter, Karami says that he was tortured physically and mentally in prison. He demands a non-political trial.

Eshkevari, a former member of the Iranian Parliament, told RFE/RL that Karami's open letter "substantiates arguments made by others" about ill-treatment in Iran's prisons. He mentioned specifically speeches by Mehdi Karrubi, Mir Hossein Musavi, and Zahra Rahnavard (Musavi's wife), and articles by some unnamed prisoners.

Eshkevari argues that by ignoring such abuses in prisons, Iranian society tacitly accepts them, and many other abuses as well.

Eshkevari told RFE/RL that forcing prisoners to confess to illicit sexual liaisons is a tactic favored by the Iranian authorities. He said that as public opinion in Iran is very sensitive about sexuality, such confessions enable the authorities simultaneously to crush prisoners psychologically and discredit them in the eyes of society.

Eshkevari says that he does not believe the publication of letters like Karami's will have any short-term effect. But, he adds, it can focus Iranian public opinion on abuses in prisons and possibly sow conflict among government officials.