Saturday, May 06, 2006

Jahanbeglou under Security Pressure

Koroush Salimi, Rooz Online:
The news of the arrest and detention of Iranian-Canadian scholar and researcher, Ramin Jahanbeglou, has stirred serious concerns among intellectuals, who fear that former intelligence agents who had lost their posts they held in the reformist government of Khatami have once again begun their threatening moves by supporting the new hardline government. There are fears that these shadow agents, as they are known because they are not publicly known, have once again targeted Iranian intellectuals. READ MORE

On the fourth day of Jahanbeglou's arrest, Fars news agency confirmed his detention in the notorious Evin prison and quoted an informed official that the Iranian Canadian professor is accused of espionage. His arrest is a reminder of the events in Iran during the late 1990s that later became known as the serial murders when Iran’s ministry of intelligence engaged in murdering dissident intellectuals. In some cases, those arrested were not executed but they were denied all access to legal help or counsel. Such cases always began with an arrest, then charges of espionage and finally execution. Such methods had been used by the ministry to eliminate Siamak Pourzand, Faraj Sarkkouhi, Abbas Abdi, Hussein Ghazian, and Abdolfatah Soltani.

The news of Ramin Jahanbeglou's arrest has been widely covered by the international media, partly because he was a well-known and active dissident thinker. At the same time, he has never been involved in political activities and has remained a scholar doing desk or field research on philosophy and cultural issues. Observes believe that his arrest is a frightening signal indicating that a group of secret shadow ultra-radical intelligence agents are returning to terrorize society and intellectual circles. These agents have openly said that they believe that intellectuals are elements of "Western cultural invasion" and because they often feel threatened by them they take measures to limit their activities. Some of these agents were expelled from the ministry of intelligence during the reform government of President Mohammad Khatami but soon re-established themselves as shadow intelligence groups on other security positions. These agents believe that secular thinkers and those who believe in democracy are dangerous enemies of the Islamic regime.

The ultra hardline and pro-government daily Keyhan usually publishes first hand news about arrests and interrogations because it has deep sources in the intelligence-security apparatus. In its story on Jahanbeglou's arrest, Keyhan, for example, claims that the Iranian-Canadian scholar had fled to the West after the victory of the Islamic Republic and had been active in panels and seminar of the so-called reform front since his return to Iran a few years ago.

Keyhan accused Jahanbeglou of close cooperation with dissident monarchist circles and other counter-revolutionaries outside Iran. Jahanbeglou had been in contact with a wide number of Iranian exiles, which included monarchists etc. So wide were his contacts that Faraj Sarkouhi who is a European-based Iranian writer in exile once called him a foreign agent who was active in deceiving Iranians with his intellectual ideas and who was in fact was a foreign spy. Keyhan further charged that Jahanbeglou had been a signatory to numerous statements issued by counter-revolutionary groups which criticized the Islamic regime.

Dissidents who have personally experienced similar attacks point out that the regime arrests and then raises serious charges against dissidents, while the victim remains in solitary confinement and is denied any contact with his family or a lawyer. The person is then subjected to long and petrifying interrogations. This continues until the victim is forced to “confessions” which remain in his file for the prosecutor and the judge to use at his hearings and eventual trial.

A former Iranian political prisoner said that these days having a foreign drivers license or talking to a foreign diplomat results in the person being seen as a foreign spy, leading to his arrest and imprisonment.