Human Rights Violator: Reza Ja’fari

Reza-Jafari

First Name and Last Name:

Reza Ja’fari

Background:

Born in 1967, Reza Ja’fari has a masters’ degree in Criminal Law and Criminology

Titles and Positions Held:

November 2012 to present: Working at the Disciplinary Court of Judges – position unclear.

November 2007 to April 2012: Director of Special Prosecution Office to Investigate Computerized Crimes (District 13); Disciplinary Court of Judges; Director of inspection of the Office of Justice of Ardebil Province; Judicial Deputy of the Office of Justice of Ardebil Province;

July 2003 to January 2005: General and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Ardebil; Chief Officer of the Human Resources of the Judiciary.

Witness Accounts of Alleged Violations and Crimes:

In fall 2007, Saeed Mortazavi, General and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Tehran established the Special Prosecution Office to Investigate Computerized Crimes and appointed Reza Ja’fari as its first director. Ja’fari remained on that post for another four years. Establishing the Special Prosecution Office coincided with mass arrests of individuals accused of launching, managing and producing pornographic web content (Gerdab Project) by the Intelligence Office of IRGC. Upon establishing, the Special Prosecution Office immediately took over the judicial aspects of Gerdab Project. This included issuing temporary detention orders and extending them for months after initial detention, interrogate and research the accused and issuing an indictment for them.

Although IRGC never announced the complete number of individuals arrested in relation to Gerdab Project, some sources give their number to be higher than 65 people. In a televised interview, Reza Ja’fari gave the number of those detained to be over 50 people.[1] Based on what is reported on Gerdab, eventually indictments were issued for 45 individuals by the inspectors of the Special Prosecution Office under the supervision of Ja’fari. It has been reported that the indictment of at least 7 of those individuals requested maximum punishment (execution) for the individual.

One of the administrators of Avizoon and XPersian websites was arrested during Gerdab Project but later released because no document was discovered to criminalize him. About the Special Prosecution Office to Investigate Computerized Crimes, he says, “During my detention period I was twice taken from ward 2A to Special Prosecution Office to Investigate Computerized Crimes. First time I was taken to the second floor of the Prosecution Office. There was a room with two rows of computers in it and people working behind the computers. In each row there were 7-8 computers. Our website had been down but they showed me pages from the archive of our website and asked to tell them the real names of the individuals who were participating in the conversation.”[2] During his interrogations, he was subject to psychological pressure, threats, and beatings to reveal the names of the mentioned individuals.

Based on written testimony of a number of prisoners arrested in relation to Gerdab Project, judicial authorities working at the Special Prosecution Office to Investigate Computerized Crimes repeatedly violated the principle of fair trial. For example, temporary detention warrants for some of the detainees were extended by the office for months and even years after the detainees’ arrest. Also, the inspectors of that office, in particular Mohammad Mehdi Mousavi, inspector of Branch 1 of this Prosecution Office that investigated many of the case files, refused to change the detention order to “release on bail” in spite of the repeated requests made by the detainees and their family. Some of the prisoners claim that the inspector working on their case was present during their tortures and extraction of force confessions.

One of those accused in this case, Vahid Asghari, complained of Mohammad Mehdi Mousavi as the inspector for having collaborated with the tortures and ordering them.[3] However, the complaint did not result in any actions. In his letter, another individual accused in this case, Saeed Malekpour, writes, “During my temporary detention, particularly in the first months, I was subject to various forms of physical and psychological torture by the Cyber Defense Office of the IRGC. Some of the tortures were performed in the presence of Mr. Moussavi, the inspector in the case. A large portion of my confession was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to me and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession based on whatever the interrogators dictated. I have to add that the confession in front of the inspector was extracted in the presence of interrogators. To prevent me from informing the inspector that my confession was given under pressure, the interrogators threatened that the torture would worsen.”[4]

The judicial authorities under directorship of Reza Ja’fari were not the only ones violating the rights of the accused. In multiple interviews that were broadcast from Iranian national television in late March 2009, along with explaining the actions of the Special Prosecution Office, Ja’fari himself announced that he has requested the maximum punishment for the managers of pornographic websites as they are corrupts on earth,

A person who is managing a large number of sites, is in contact with 250 obscene and amoral websites in the world, promotes illicit acts and incest there, promotes sinful actions with children, bestiality and such, insults what is deemed holy in our faith, insults our prophet and other holy prophets, questions the mourning processions, and spews what he deserves upon our holy relics, if he cannot be called “corrupt on earth,” then nothing in the world can be titled as such. When we identify what the issue [crime] is, naturally the sentence for it is clear as well. The sentence and punishment for being a corrupt on earth is execution… Our request is exactly that. I mean that if such punishment cannot be issued for these people, then certainly there is a problem with either our work or our law. Naturally, we are pursuing their work… We will show no mercy in dealing with them because they invaded the personal space of people and played with people’s beliefs and made efforts for promotion of corruption on earth in the society.[5]

Presently, it is reported that seven individuals accused in the aforementioned case file have been sentenced to execution for that same charge—being corrupts on earth.[6] We were able to ascertain the issuance of execution order based on the indictment for five of the individuals. At the time of publishing of this report, three of those sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court. However, the other two individuals with execution order continue to remain unknown.

Also, in a televised interview broadcast on April 19, 2009, Ja’fari said, “All the accused confessed to having contacts with the foreign agents and they even received money and checks from the foreign elements which are documented and present in their case file. Furthermore, they had conversations and correspondence with foreign agents through internet; that is also kept in their file as evidence.”[7] In the interview, Ja’fari made it clear that those accused in this case will be dealt with without any mercy.[8]

In his letter of complaint, Vahid Asghari, one of the accused, writes that he was forced, under severe tortures, to falsely confess to receiving 1000 to 3000 dollars on a monthly basis from the American government for the purpose of soft overthrow. He writes, “I was accused of insulting the Imam’s, insulting the leader, and causing confusion amongst the masses in my interrogations because I received, without my control and by accident, ridiculing images of the leader and the heads of the regime and the Shi’ite Imams. I had no hand in receiving those emails. They accused me of obtaining unacceptable property, under the sharia law, because I was a Google strategist and used Google advertisements and received money from Google, technologically the greatest search engine. Such accusations are laughable! They do not have any illegal activities and are merely a business. They insist that I am a member of the Munafiqin, active in their cultural branch. This is my largest false accusation while I had and have no contact with them, never met any of them and have no understanding of them.”[9]

Upon the passing of Law of Computerized Crimes in July 2009, as per the responsibility delegated to them by this law, the Prosecution Office of Iran assigned a working group to decide on the definition of crime online and in the websites. On January 31, 2010, the working group passed a list of content that is constituted criminal by the Islamic Republic on the internet.[10] Based on the list, over 40 criminal acts on the cyber space have been defined which include creating content against public moral and chastity, Islamic sanctities, officials and governmental and public organs as well as content against national security. This includes actions such as creating a group or gathering on the cyber space with the intention of disrupting national security, creating content that damages the foundation of the Islamic Republic, publishing content against the principles of the Constitution, propagating against the regime of Islamic Republic, disrupting national unity and causing disagreement amongst the various groups within the society particularly through discussing ethnic and racial issues, propaganda to benefit the groups and organizations opposing the Islamic Republic, and insulting and mocking the officials, governmental or regime organizations and establishment.

As an example, the list considers publishing filter-breakers and teaching how to circumvent the filtering, re-publishing and linking to other criminal content of websites as well as blocked internet sites, shut down publications and media connected to wayward and illegal groups and movements as examples of creating content against national security, officials and governmental organizations.

Pursuant to the passing of this list, Reza Ja’fari announced that the Prosecution Office under his control is observing the content of websites using advance tools and software so that he can execute the law.[11] In this interview, he considered the lack of access to adequate software and equipments as reason for the government not dealing with websites that, in the aftermath of the 2009 election, were publishing what Ja’fari called “false news.”[12]

 

Sources:

http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13920417000572

[1] Sock documentary is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meNAp1qxEpA&feature=related.

[2] For Security reasons, name and identifying information about this witness is confidential at Justice for Iran.

[3] Complete translated text of Vahid Asghari’s letter can be found in the appendix to this report.

[4] Complete translated text of Saeed Malekpour’s letter can be found in the appendix to this report.

[5] Sock documentary is available on YouTube at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meNAp1qxEpA&feature=related.

[6] Names of five of them are known: Ahmadreza Hashempour, Saeed Malekpour, Vahid Asghari, Vahid Alizadeh and Hassan Si Sakhti. However, names of the other two have remained unknown in spite of our efforts.

[7] Warning of the Prosecution Office to Users of Obscene Sites, Tabnak, April 19, 2009, available at http://www.tabnak.ir/pages/?cid=44192.

[8] Id.

[9] Complete translated text of Vahid Asghari’s letter can be found in the appendix to this report.

[10] Complete text of this passing is available in Persian on the website of the Cyber Police at http://www.cyberpolice.ir/page/2551.

[11] A New Wave of Control and Supervision on the Internet Sites and Networks, Jaras, November 5, 2010, available at http://www.rahesabz.net/story/26724/.

[12]