Released Iranian reformist journalists write letters of repentance: report

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AFP: Three Iranian reformist journalists released in the past days have written letters of repentance, saying they were “brainwashed” by foreigners and “counter-revolutionaries”, press reports said Saturday. Newspapers have carried the letters of repentance allegedly written by Omid Memarian, Shahram Rafizadeh and Roozbeh Mir-Ebrahimi to the head of Iran’s hardline judiciary. AFP

TEHRAN – Three Iranian reformist journalists released in the past days have written letters of repentance, saying they were “brainwashed” by foreigners and “counter-revolutionaries”, press reports said Saturday.

Newspapers have carried the letters of repentance allegedly written by Omid Memarian, Shahram Rafizadeh and Roozbeh Mir-Ebrahimi to the head of Iran’s hardline judiciary.

The trio were detained in a recent crackdown on reformist journalists and contributors to controversial Internet sites.

“I was brainwashed by hardline elements to destroy the image of the regime by relating with counter-revolutionaries and talking to foreign radio,” said the letter by Memarian, who maintained a controversial web log.

“I and people like me in the past years have been trapped by the ones who were merely concerned with their own political benefits and used us as puppets,” Mir-Ebrahimi’s letter said, according to the reports carried by several papers.

“I have in the past years insulted the Supreme Leader. I was made to believe all the problems on the way to reforms stemmed from the head of the regime,” it added.

“I spread lies as I was influenced and encouraged by the ones who have for years been wounding the Islamic regime,” read a letter written by Rafizadeh, according to the same reports.

The journalists’ lawyer was not available to provide confirmation.

Omid Memarian and Shahram Rafizadeh were released from jail on Wednesday evening on a bail of 500 million rials (56,800 dollars), student news agency ISNA said. Roozbeh Mir-Ebrahimi was released the week before on a bail of 300 million rials (34,000 dollars).

In the past months, Iran’s hardline judiciary arrested a number of reformist journalists accused of publishing propaganda against the regime, acting against national security, disturbing the public mind and also insulting religious sanctities.

The ultra-conservative daily Kayhan published a letter by Rafizadeh in which he said he had been influenced by prominent reformist figures such as Mostafa Tajzadeh and Behzad Nabavi to write articles hostile to the Islamic regime.

Two of the letters affirmed the journalists were treated well during detention and denied press reports they were kept in solitary confinement.

“It is absolutely wrong that we were kept in solitary confinement. I was with others such as Tmimi, Mazrooi, Memarian and Rafizadeh during detention,” Mir-Ebrahimi’s letter said.

“I was not kept in solitary confinement and treated very nicely by prison officials who provided us with all facilities and even let us have a television,” read Rafizadeh’s.

The three journalists expressed deep regret for their past deeds and hoped they could reconcile themselves with the Islamic regime.

“I have understood my mistakes and I regret what I have done.” Mir-Ebrahimi’s letter said.

“I saw nothing but respect and kindness during detention from people who had contact with us. I would like to thank them for their kindness and wish them success,” it added.

“I hope I can make up for my mistakes with the opportunity that the justice system has given me,” appears in Memarian’s letter.

Such public expressions of regret had grown less frequent compared with the early post-revolutionary days, when detained members of the opposition groups would appear on national television to make statements of repentance.

Rafizadeh, a journalist for the reformist newspaper Etemad, was arrested on September 7.

Memarian, who maintained a controversial weblog, was arrested on October 10 in his office in Tehran, shortly after he was refused permission to travel to the US to attend a conference on Iranian civil society in New York.

Mir Ebrahimi, former political editor of Etemad, was picked up at his home on 27 September.

Last week the European Union lodged a formal protest with Iranian authorities over the arrest and harassment of journalists, staff of non-governmental organizations and members of religious minorities.