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Hackers Release 2020 Evin Prison Letter On Security Measures

The security chief at Tehran’s Evin prison, Gholamreza Mohammadi, wrote to an unnamed warden in 2020 highlighting the need for extra measures to prevent high-profile political prisoners contacting outsiders to publicize their cases with "hostile anti-revolutionary groups and media."

The letter, marked 'classified,’ was sent to Iran International by Edalat-e Ali, a group of hackers, that on August 23 began circulating footage from security cameras in the prison showing prisoner abuse and other prison documents. Edalat-e Ali promised further footage of maltreatment.

Citing the case of Navid Afkari, a wrestler executed a few weeks earlier on September 12, Mohammadi ordered closer control of death row prisoners' contacts with outsiders, including during transportation to court and other places, for at least one month before execution.

A few weeks before he was hanged, a phone call made by Afkari was recorded and spread on social media. In it, Afkari described details of his trial and the torture he alleged had led to his confession to murdering Hasan Turkman, a water board security guard. An audio file from his trial was also circulated on social media.

Navid Afkari and his two brothers who took part in an anti-government protest in 2018 were arrested a short while later and accused of killing the government employee. His brothers are still in prison serving long sentences. They Have denied any role in the killing and insist that they were charged with murder to make them an example to other would-be protesters.

On Saturday, Fars News, which is affiliated to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, published a new video of Afkari confessing to the killing. Afkari’s family, their lawyer and human rights defenders, as well as Afkari himself during his trial, said that the confession was taken under torture.

The Fars video, which included testimony from an "informed source," was later removed from Fars’ website after social media users highlighted discrepancies with previous videos and audio files published by Iranian state television (IRIB) and with the official forensic report on the case. In a video showing Afkari confessing aired by IRIB on September 5, 2020, a week before his execution, Afkari said he had killed Turkman "to settle personal accounts."

Afkari's case attracted huge social media and media attention outside Iran, including a social media campaign against the death penalty that begun in mid-July 2020.

In less than two months the hashtags 'Don't Execute' and 'Stop Executions Now' rose to the top of Twitter trends worldwide, with the 'Don't Execute' hashtag retweeted 4.5 million times in less than two days.

With 267 executions in 2020, Iran had the highest number of executions in the world after China (483) and ahead of Egypt (107). Some executions, according to the Norway-based Iran Human Rights, are a tool to oppress political dissidents, ethnic minorities, and journalists.

A British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National and journalist at Iran International
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