HRANA has identified Revolutionary Guard intelligence members, “Raouf” and “Sattar”

Posted on: December 14th, 2020

HRANA – Earlier this week, HRANA, the news body of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI), detailed the identification of a man known by a number of names, most notably, Raouf. Raouf is a notorious security force member involved in a number of human rights violations in Iran. Operating in Ward 2A of Evin Prison, which belongs to the IRGC, Raouf is said to have participated in the interrogation and mistreatment of a large number of civil and political activists. 

Although his main place of work is believed to be in Ward 2A of Evin Prison, a number of political-civil activists or family members of prisoners have faced interrogations at the hands of Raouf at other locations, such as offices affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran. 

He is responsible for interrogating a large number of political and civil activists, including Arash Sadeghi, Golrokh Erayi, Mahdieh Golroo, Soheil Arabi, Nastaran Naimi, and Athena Daemi. Most of these people are currently serving long prison sentences.

HRANA has spoken to a number of former political prisoners [whose names could not be mentioned for security reasons] personally interrogated by Raouf to confirm the identity and role of this security agent. Some of their statements are detailed below. 

One witness stated,  “Raouf slapped me so much during my interrogation that twice I bled after returning to my cell.” 

A former political prisoner, speaking anonymously, told HRANA, detailing his interrogation with Raouf,  “He hit me so hard that it caused one of my bones to break. He used a leather belt to beat me often for upwards of ten minutes. He did this while he verbally insulted my family and I.”

A human rights activist who served his sentence in Evin Prison told HRANA,  “He was present at all stages of my trial in the Revolutionary Court and repeatedly threatened my peers and I with new cases. He continued, “I still remember his face. I still remember how it bothered my wife…”

Mahdieh Golroo, a former student activist, confirmed Raouf’s role in interrogating her throughout her detention, posting a note on her personal page: “I have complained about his recent threats in Sweden by name, phone, and photo – to no avail.  It is my duty to expose the interrogators and those who destroy the lives of many with impunity.”

Since the original report was released, HRANA received information that Raouf is a pseudonym for the name Ali Hemmatian. We are not yet able to independently confirm and will continue to investigate further.

The below image displays Raouf sitting in the first row of Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech in 2015.

The information about Raouf drew public attention which led to additional witnesses coming forward to identify a number of other security figures within the country. Notably, these witness statements have led to the identification of an IRGC interrogator known as “Sattar.” Sattar is said to have played a role in detaining political prisoners involved in the 2019–20 Iranian protests (also known as Bloody November). 

The following image, which shows a meeting of the directors and researchers of the Islamic Revolutionary Documentation Organization with Ayatollah Khamenei on April 11, 2011, shows Sattar in color.

A group of witnesses, all of whom were detained during the November 2019 protests in Tehran, testified that after being arrested, they were taken to unknown locations where they were beaten and interrogated.

One of the victims told HRANA, “From the beginning of our detention [November 2019], we were blindfolded and then taken to an interrogation facility where we were beaten for several days.”  When asked about the man in question, the victim continued, “His colleagues called him Sattar; this name was perhaps because of the beard style he wore. However, when I saw him in those days,  he had a longer beard and shorter hair than in the 2011  picture [provided above].”

Another witness told HRANA, “While I was closing my business, located on Enghelab Street,  I was arrested by plainclothes men (November 2019). From the beginning of my arrest, I was beaten. In addition to myself, two or three other people were arrested and transported in the same vehicle, to an unknown location. After being transported, we were threatened and interrogated. The plainclothes man violently forced us to admit wrongdoing. This went on for two days before ultimately being handed over to the IRGC detention center in Evin Prison.”

A witness, detained at the same time, confirmed these witness statements and also stated, “There were a combination of forces present at the scene of the arrest that day and during the interrogation. Involved were plainclothes forces, Basij forces, and the IRGC. The person in question, Sattar, was in plain clothes, according to the case file and interrogation documents.” He continued, “When we were finally handed over to the IRGC, it was clear Sattar was affiliated with them.”

Sattar, in addition to the above-mentioned unknown places of interrogation, was also seen at the Yad Yaran Basij Resistance Base located on Argentina Street in Tehran.

Following HRANAs request for information, a number of other victims of Sattar’s interrogations contacted the news agency with information, including a court document discovered by HRANA and which named Sattar as “Massoud Safdari.”

A former prisoner who has experience dealing with the security forces detailed Sattar as the person who was present at the time of his televised forced confession. He told HRANA, “I remember his face very well, he was a rude person who, along with his colleagues, managed the video recording by threatening and intimidating me.” 

Another witness, whose identity is withheld for security reasons, told HRANA, “I was interrogated at an IRGC intelligence base in Tehran Afsariyeh district known as 1Alef. They recorded my televised confession. Sattar didn’t leave me alone even after they recorded their video. He abused me and harassed my family by threatening them over the phone.” 

Some sources also informed HRANA that Sattar, along with a number of other security forces, is living in the district of Shahrak Shahid Mahallati in Tehran.

From the summary of information received and based on the credibility of the sources, it seems that there is a team of young intelligence forces of the Revolutionary Guards in the internal security sector in the Tehran region; their traces can be seen in numerous cases. Sattar (likely Massoud Safdari), Majid Koushki (known as Majid Buffalo), and Massoud Hemmati, known to be on the Raouf team, all likely operating under the leadership of Raouf (likely Ali Hemmatian).

In an effort to complete information about this human rights abuser, HRANA News Agency is calling on victims and those aware of their status to assist in completing these investigations.

Former Civil Servant to Begin Prison Sentence

Posted on: November 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Former political prisoner and ex-public official Feizollah Arabsorkhi has been summoned to begin his one-year prison sentence within the next five days.

Arabsorkhi was tried on charges of “propaganda against the regime” by Judge Ahmadzadeh in August of 2015 and issued a two-year ban on civic activities in addition to his one-year prison term.

Arabsorkhi has speculated that the charges are a vindictive move from the Intelligence Unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in response to his signature on a letter once published from prison.

In protest of the highly-contested Iranian presidential election of 2009, Arabsorkhi co-authored a letter with a number of political activists, interpreting a speech by security-judiciary agent Commander Moshfegh as evidence of corruption both before and after the ballots had been cast. Later arrested by the IRGC, he was convicted in Revolutionary Court Branch 15 of “propaganda against the regime” and “assembling and colluding against national security” in July of that year. He was released from Evin Prison in 2013 after completing his sentence.

Born September 23, 1958, Arabsorkhi holds a bachelor’s degree in social communications and membership in the reformist political group Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution. He has served both on the cabinet of Mir-Hossein Mousavi as general manager of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance security office, and in the Khatami administration [1997 – 2005] as deputy trade minister for the Ministry of Commerce.

Afrin Battles Detainees Condemned to 11 Years in Prison

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The verdict of Mostafa Ghader Zeinab and Rahim Mahmoudi Azar–two Urmia residents who were sent back to Iran from Syrian Kurdistan after being wounded in the Turkish offensives on Afrin–was upheld by Branch 1 of the Appeals Court of Urmia.

Per their original sentencing by Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court of Urmia on July 6, 2018, Zeinab and Azar face five years in prison on charges of “Membership in anti-regime groups,” five years in prison for “collusion and conspiracy,” and one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime.”

Zeinab has been released on bail, and Azar remains in detention at Urmia.

A source close to both men previously told HRANA that Zeinab and Azar were members of a Kurdish military group fighting in Syria. After sustaining injuries during a Turkish attack on Afrin, they were transferred to a hospital in Aleppo. “Upon realizing their nationalities, Syrian authorities handed them over to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” the source said.

According to the source, they were interrogated at Evin Detention Center for a week in March 2018 before being transferred to Urmia’s Intelligence Office, where they were interrogated for a month.

Both men have been denied the right to appoint lawyers of their choice and attended their court session with a public defender.

Zahedan Death Row Prisoner Now in Custody of the IRGC

Posted on: August 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Abubakr Rostami, a political prisoner on death row, was transferred from Ward 4 of Zahedan Central Prison to an IRGC detention center on August 28, 2018. To date, HRANA is unable to confirm the reason for his transfer.

A source close to Rostami told HRANA, “A few days ago, prison authorities told Rostami he was not to use the library or gym, then on Tuesday they transferred him outside.”

Rostami was among a group of political prisoners in Zahedan who addressed a letter to UN special rapporteur Javaid Rehman, imploring him to advocate for political prisoners’ rights.

Prior to this, in an open letter co-written by Bandeh Chakerzehi and Sajjad Baluch — the two arrested with him on September 16, 2015– Rostami proclaimed their innocence, stating the IRGC and Intelligence Agency exerted physical and mental torture on them on charges that were “bogus”.

In the letter, Rostami wrote of the trip to Pakistan he was planning in anticipation of making arrangements for continuing his studies [abroad]: “Due to border limitations, I was forced to travel through Pakistan to get to [another] foreign country, but I was arrested midway and handed over to the IRGC,” he wrote.

A second-year medical student at Zabol University of Medical Sciences, Rostami has spent the past three years in prison. In August 2017, along with Chakerzehi and Baluch who were on trial for the same case, he was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court of Zahedan on charges of “Moharebeh” (enmity against God) and “Acting Against National Security through Cooperation with Opposition Groups”.

No further details on their case or charges were available.

*Zahedan is a county in the Sistan and Baluchestan Province.

Kurdish Opposition Member on Death Row Returned to Prison after IRGC Interrogation

Posted on: August 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- After ten days of interrogation at a detention center of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Kamal Hassan Ramezan, 33, who is from the Syrian Kurdish town of Serikani, was transferred back to Ward 12 of Urmia Central Prison on Thursday, August 23, 2018, where he awaits execution.

The IRGC was interrogating Ramezan about his prison “activism,” a source familiar with the case told HRANA. “Mr Ramezan was taken to an unknown location on August 13th. When he was finally returned to [Ward 12 of Urmia Central Prison], we learnt that he had spent these 10 days in an IRGC detention center.”

First arrested near Urmia in July 2014 by IRGC forces, Ramezan underwent interrogation for four months on the charge of Moharebeh (“enmity against God”). Urmia court authorities then officially charged Ramezan, who is of Kurdish descent, with Moharebeh for his alleged affiliation with a Kurdish opposition group, and transferred him to Urmia Central Prison.

While awaiting trial for the above charges, he was coerced and tortured into providing a televised confession. On August 14, 2015, Branch 2 of the Urmia Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Sheikhlou, sentenced Ramezan to ten years and one day in prison.

In 2016 Ramezan was targeted again, interrogated as a suspect in the 2006 murder of an IRGC member in Urmia. Despite an alibi of not having been in the country at the time of the murder, he was tried and sentenced to death in absentia by Branch 3 of the Urmia Revolutionary Court on May 20th, 2017, and has remained in prison since.

Civil Rights Activist Denied Medical Care in Yasouj Prison

Posted on: August 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Despite vomiting blood and severe difficulty breathing, detained civil rights activist Mohammad Davari has yet to see a doctor.

Detained since August 10, 2018, in Yasouj Central Prison where interrogators dealt heavy blows to his chest and abdomen, he has twice requested medical attention for his subsequent injuries, a source close to his family said. Prison officials have denied his requests.

Multiple visits and inquiries to the Intelligence Office and the Judiciary of Yasouj have done little to assuage Davari’s family’s concern for his wellbeing, as authorities thus far have refused to comment on his case or the reason for his detention. At the time of Davari’s arrest at his parents’ home in Yasouj, agents confiscated some of his personal belongings such as his mobile phone, laptop, and written notes.

Mohammad Davari has previously been on the authorities’ radar. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) apprehended him on March 5, 2018, in connection to his engagement in protests that filled the streets of different Iranian cities in spring of 2018. After eight days in detention, he was released on a bail of 500,000,000 Rials (approximately $12,000 USD). Relative to that arrest, authorities reportedly told Davari’s family that he was being charged with “acting against national security through disturbing the public peace.” He was arrested and released on bail in another incident following the death of Hashemi Rafsanjani, for pulling down a banner bearing Rafsanjani’s photo.

Mohammad Davari, 26, is pursuing a master’s degree in Political Science.

Security Forces Arrest More Citizens in Ahvaz

Posted on: August 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Several citizens in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz were arrested by security forces in the aftermath of a football match between Esteghlal Ahvaz and Tehran’s Persepolis that took place on August 9th. After the match, fans chanted slogans against the Iranian authorities.

The arrestees, who are among the Arab citizens of Ahvaz, were reportedly arrested by security forces of the Intelligence Department of Ahvaz’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

HRANA was able to identify two of the arrestees as Imen Beit Sayah, 16, and Bashir Sorkhi. Mr Sorkhi was reportedly arrested on August 15th and taken to an unidentified location. Mr Sayah was arrested on August 9th and taken to an unidentified location.

Bashir Sorkhi (left) and 16-year-old Imen Beit Sayah (right)

After a week, the family of the arrestees still have no information about the whereabouts of their children.

On August 16th, HRANA had reported on the arrest of another Ahvazi citizen by security forces.