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Forced Confessions and Other Stories

December 20, 2017
Weekly Roundup
3 min read
Forced Confessions and Other Stories

Dear friends,

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Etc! 

I wish you a productive and healthy new year, and an enjoyable holiday to you and your families over the next couple of weeks. 

This is the time of the year those of us fortunate enough to be with our families are very grateful. We also think of those who are not with us anymore, and those who have been separated from their families by force, whether they're in Iran or elsewhere in the world. 

As I’m writing these words, I’m thinking about the family of Dr Ahmad Reza Jalali, an Iranian academic who’s facing the death penalty in Iran. His case is clear evidence of how the Islamic Republic uses its citizens as political pawns. Jalali is an expert in disaster relief and has been working on a range of prominent projects in Europe. When Tehran University invited him to share his knowledge, he was happy to oblige, not knowing what trouble awaited. Instead of being allowed to go back to his home in Sweden, he was arrested, and accused of passing classified information about Iran's nuclear scientists to Israel's Mossad — clearly trumped up charges. After being held for more than 18 months, he was finally sentenced to death. When the supreme court upheld his sentence earlier this month, it met with fierce condemnation and protest from the international community, including from groups of scientists working to protect academic freedom. This in turn led to a new propaganda campaign from the Islamic Republic, which produced a faux TV documentary showing Jalali confessing to being a spy. 

But on Monday, in a telephone conversation with his family, Jalali set the record straight: He was forced to confess to the crimes after his interrogators tortured him and threatened the life of his young son. If history is anything to go by, Jalali could now be put back into solitary confinement and be denied contact with his family. 

The end of the year is also a good time to look at our confusing and complicated world, which is becoming more perplexing every day. One would be forgiven for thinking that Iran is a dictatorship, with the Supreme Leader being a tyrant similar to Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-un. But the power structure in Iran is more complicated. This week we offer you a study of the volatile relationship between Ayatollah Khamenei, who is really a junior cleric posing as a grand ayatollah (some people have called him a lowertollah!), and the real objects of emulation who guide people’s spiritual and material lives. We show why Khamenei has to kowtow to the grand ayatollahs, and try control them at the same time. 

News of Iran wouldn’t be the same without former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He’s the quintessential bad guy we all love to hate, but when he’s gone we wonder where he is and even long for him. But Mahmoud never disappoints. He’s back with a vengeance, targeting judiciary officials. He’s called them dictatorial and corrupt. Basically, the pot is calling the kettle black. This is the reality of life for millions of Iranians: a choice between bad and worse. 

Let’s hope for our sake, 2018 can bring a bit of sanity and logic to the world. I don’t keep my hopes up, but let’s just hope against hope...

As always, please let me know if you have any comments. 

Warm regards 


Jalali Disowns Forced Confessions - Click Here

The Afghan Schools Run by Afghan Refugees - Click Here

Will the Larijani Brothers Go for Ahmadinejad’s Jugular? - Click Here

Is Khamenei Afraid to Contradict Grand Ayatollahs? - Click Here

Bijan Ebrahimi Victim of "Institutional Racism" - Click Here

Living in Poverty Under High-Voltage Power Lines - Click Here

Drought in Sistan and Baluchistan - Click Here