Iranian human rights defender Nargess Mohammadi. FILE

Iranian human rights defender Nargess Mohammadi

Better To Let Dissident Leave Iran, Hacked Intelligence Letter Says


Iran's intelligence agencies prefer dissidents to leave the country when their presence is see as more detrimental than their exile, hacktivists have revealed.

A "highly confidential" letter provided to the BBC's Persian service concerning human rights defender Narges Mohammadi by the hactivist group Edalat-e Ali (Ali's Justice), if authentic, could be proof of such a policy.

In the letter which is attributed to the judicial director general of the intelligence ministry whose name has not been mentioned in the BBC report, the intelligence official suggests that Mohammadi should be allowed to leave the country as keeping her in Iran is more harmful than letting her reside abroad.

In the letter dated November 6 and addressed to Deputy Prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, the intelligence ministry official argues that thanks to the internet Mohammadi can have online meetings with "foreign individuals and embassies" or give interviews to Europe-based television channels. "A ban on leaving the country does not prevent her from her criminal activities."

The letter pointed out that in Iran she could anyway meet online with "foreign individuals and embassies" or give interviews to foreign television channels. The intelligence official suggested that allowing Mohammadi to leave could help highlight differences between her and other dissidents, including US-based Masih Alinejad.

Mohammadi's husband Taghi Rahmani, a pro-reform journalist, left the country for France with the couple's twin children in 2012 after serving a total of 14 years in prison himself but Mohammadi chose to stay in Iran to continue her activities as a human rights defender.

Mohammadi who has not seen her children for ten years says she would visit her husband and children in Paris if she was given a passport and permission to leave but wanted to be able to return to Iran.

Since appearing in August 2021, hackers Edalat-e Ali (Ali's Justice) have released footage from security cameras of Tehran's Evin prison and several confidential documents. Earlier this week the group provided Iran International TVwith a document showing Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Intelligence wanted oil officials in the previous government banned from leaving Iran. The group’s name evokes the first of the twelve Shiite Imams, Ali, but may also be intended as an sarcastic reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Mohammadi, the vice-president of Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) has been in and out of prison several times since 1998. She was released from prison in October 2020 after serving five and half years on trumped up charges.

Since her release from prison, she has been indicted in two new cases, put on trial and sentenced to prison in absentia because she refused to attend the trials – Mohammadi does not recognize the authority of the Iranian judicial system -- as a show of civil disobedience.

In an Instagram post Thursday, Mohammadi said she will not surrender to the summons to go back to prison to serve the sentences passed on her in her latest trials.

"I'm in my sixth day of disobedience toward [the order] to return to prison. Yesterday I received a letter [from judiciary authorities] to inform that the properties of the person who posted bail for me could be confiscated," she said, adding that she will continue her disobedience as long as the bail is not in danger of forfeiture.

Mohammadi won the 2022 award of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) on March 12 for her documentary film White Torture which addresses the psychological damage caused by solitary confinement in a soundless, white room - a common practice in Iranian prisons.

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