Friday, February 17, 2012

'Temporary' detention order expired; Dokouhaki and Rasouli still in solitary confinement

More than a month after their arrest, Iranian journalists Marzieh Rasouli and Parastoo Dokouhaki are still being held without charge, in solitary cells run by the Revolutionary Guards in Evin prison.

In what might best be described as 'administrative detention' since mid-January, the two have been under constant pressure to make false confessions. By law, maximum period for such detention -- named 'temporary' in Iran -- is one month, after which the judge has to ask for an extension or release the detainee.

The one-month 'temporary detention' order for Dokouhaki expired on 14 February; for Rasouli on 16th. It is not clear whether the order has been extended/re-issued or the two are held in contravention of even the existing legal due process of the Islamic Republic.

The prolonged detention of Parastoo and Marzieh has traumatised their families who say their loved ones did not look 'fine' in the only visit they've been granted to this date.

Since last week, both families have been falsely promised of 'immediate release' on a number of occasions. This, according to people with close knowledge of the issue in Iran, is a systematic attempt by security forces and interrogators to confuse, frustrate and ultimately break the detainee and its family.

The judicial authorities have so far refused to comment on the cases of Parastoo Dokouhaki and Marzieh Rasouli. There is very little doubt, however, that both journalists are under immense pressure to make false confessions of working with 'foreign media', the BBC in particular.

Officials in recent days have pointed to 'plots by foreign networks inside Iran'. On Tuesday, the semi-official Mehrnews reported, quoting 'security officials', that 'some members of the network of those working with the BBC Persian' had been arrested.

Recently, after close relatives and friends of its journalists were arrested in Iran, BBC Persian Service announced that none of those arrested, including Parastoo Dokouhaki, Marzieh Rasouli and Saham Bourghani, have ever worked for the broadcaster in any capacity.

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