Maryam Haji-Hosseini, 51, is the owner of two patented inventions and the mother of an 18-year-old son. Her distressed ordeal started more than three years ago, when she was taken into custody on charges of espionage.
A source close to her family tells IranWire that Haji-Hosseini endured 412 days in solitary confinement and grueling interrogations aimed at forcing her to confess to sharing scientific and military secrets with Israel.
She is now serving a 10-year prison sentence for crimes she has not committed.
Patenting, Entrepreneurship and Awards
Haji-Hosseini is a graduate in polymer engineering from Tehran’s Amir Kabir University of Technology and holds a degree in non-metallic materials from MATI University in Moscow.
In February 2008, she secured the second position in the Initiative category at the Kharazmi International Festival. She was aged 35.
In 2009, she also earned a gold medal at the International Inventors' Competition held in Zagreb, Croatia.
This member of the National Elite Foundation successfully registered two inventions in her country.
According to the source, Haji-Hosseini is the founder and CEO of the knowledge-based company Asr Carbon Sazeh, which employed 34 individuals before her arrest on September 16, 2019. The company has accomplished numerous projects in the field of composite science and technology.
Interrogation and Solitary Confinement
Haji-Hosseini has endured two rounds of interrogation since she was sent behind bars. The first interrogation phase lasted for six months and was conducted under the Ministry of Intelligence; the second one, which lasted for seven months, took place at a detention center overseen by the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
IranWire’s source says that Haji-Hosseini was initially prohibited from contacting her son Alireza for four months. After that, she was granted the opportunity to speak to him for three minutes three times a week. Subsequently, she was allowed to hold a 15-minute phone conversation with Alireza each week.
The interrogation room was always enveloped in darkness, and Haji-Hosseini never saw her interrogators.
"For the first 85 days, including holidays, she was interrogated by a team for 10 hours every day. Eventually, her interrogators assured her she would be able to return to her company, saying: ‘fortunately, you didn’t do anything wrong.' Maryam believed that cooperating with the security forces during the interrogations was the right thing to do, and she responded honestly, assuring them that she had never engaged in any activities that could embarrass anyone," the source says.
Haji-Hosseini constantly asks for books and the opportunity to speak with her son, but the interrogators claimed that the prosecutor in charge of her case had prohibited this and that she should read religious books such as the Quran.
According to IranWire's investigation, Haji-Hosseini's first trial hearing took place in May 2020. The charges against her included "corruption on Earth" and "espionage for Israel."
The trial was presided over by Abolqasem Salvati, a judge at Tehran's Revolutionary Court known for issuing death sentences.
The source tells IranWire that Haji-Hosseini was not granted the right to choose her lawyer and only met with her court-appointed attorney “15 minutes before entering the court."
The entire court session lasted less than 20 minutes, during which she was not allowed to present her defense and her lawyer did not make any substantial statements.
According to human rights organizations, court-chosen defense lawyers are often coerced or manipulated by the judiciary, serving merely to complete formalities.
Haji-Hosseini was first sentenced to death for allegedly receiving money in return for providing secret documents, but the appeals court changed the sentence to 10 years in prison.
According to IranWire's source, Haji-Hosseini has written numerous letters to the authorities, consistently requesting the involvement of a technical expert in the case to rectify the false accusations made against her.
She never received a response. "In February 2020, she was given several interrogation sheets without any accompanying questions. Maryam was asked to write down everything she knew about the methods for producing composite parts,” the source says.
"She diligently complied, believing that it was only the beginning of her detention and that she would soon be released. Now, she faces 19 accusations, which are based on her own writings and scientific information concerning processes like producing parts with a press or under a vacuum. However, it is claimed that she provided these materials to the enemy."
The informed source further says that her older brother, who serves on her company's board of directors, requested officials to launch an investigation and disclose the accusations in her sister’s case. In response, he was charged with "spreading falsehoods" and is currently out on bail.
Alleged Escape Scenario with Help of Mossad
In the fourth month of her detention, the interrogators informed Haji-Hosseini that the "enemy," referring to Israel, had dispatched key operatives to her residence with the intention of taking her son outside the country. With this fictional scenario, they attempted to establish her alleged high value to Israel.
The IranWire source says that Judge Abolqasem Salavati addressed this issue during the court session with Haji-Hosseini. Salavati claimed that this escape strategy was a "Mossad trick."
The interrogators informed Haji-Hosseini that a young man said to be an Israeli operative was arrested on the orders of Judge Salavati. They alleged that the man, named Abbas Samimi and born in 1992, was instructed to facilitate her and her son's escape to Turkey and subsequently take them to Israel.
The source says that while she was in solitary confinement, security personnel filmed the man along with Haji-Hosseini’s son and a suitcase in front of her house to support their narrative.
Languishing in Prison
Haji-Hosseini is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for "transferring technical knowledge" to Israel.
She hasn’t been granted a single day of furlough, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many prisoners were granted temporary release, Haji-Hosseini was kept in quarantine for 32 days after contracting the coronavirus.
"She is deeply concerned about her son. She can only communicate with him during brief phone calls, and he has become less talkative, which greatly worries Maryam," the source says.