Justice for Iran: IRGC’s Cyber Crime Office Must Be Placed on the List of Human Rights Targeted Sanctions

In its latest report, “Gerdab: A dictated Scenario,” Justice for Iran highlights the role of IRGC’s Center to Investigate Organized Crime in the severe violation of the rights of Iranian citizens. The Center to Investigate Organized Crime (Cyber Crime Office), a division of the IRGC, focuses on ensuring the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the cyber space. Upon its establishment in 2007, the first case file the Center worked on was a project titled Gerdab (Whirlpool), during the process of which 45 individuals were arrested and imprisoned under the title of Persian porn producers. Later on, in their televised confessions, the accused confessed that they intended to attack the cultural basis of the Islamic Republic through corrupting and driving the youth from the right path as well as having political agendas against the government or Islam and receiving money from the American government to establish and produce pornographic content.

A year and half later, a number of the detainees and their relatives broke their silence about the treatments and abuses that led to their confessions. They filed complaint to official judicial authorities regarding long stretches of time spent in solitary cells, continuous and severe physical and psychological torture to obtain and record false confessions, lack of respect of the authority for the right of due process from the moment of arrest throughout the entire duration of preliminary investigation phase, and other such calamities endured by the detainees.

7 of the individuals accused in the Gerdab Project have been sentenced to execution. Three of those individuals are at imminent danger for execution; they are Ahmad Reza Hashempour, Saeed Malekpour, and Mehdi Alizadeh. Furthermore, the case file of Vahid Asghari, another accused sentenced to execution by the lower court, is awaiting the final judgment of the Supreme Court.

The officials responsible for this project, both in the security chapter and in the judicial system continue to enjoy impunity and remain in their influential positions of power.

Cyber Crime Office has also played an important role in the Post-2009 election events in identifying, arresting and sentencing the protesters involved in the post election protests, particularly those active on the cyber space.

Most recently, this centre put pressure on certain numbers of journalists and bloggers, namely Parastoo Dokouhaki, Marziyeh Rasouli, and Sahameddin Bouraghani, accusing them of “having contact with the BBC Persian network” and trying to force them to confess against themselves or others. Such confessions which were taken from them inside Evin prison were broadcast from the National Iranian television as well as the Iranian sponsored English satellite channel Press TV.

Justice for Iran is content that three official directly responsible for Gerdab’ project, who were duly identified and introduced by Justice for Iran, have been placed on the most recent list of human rights targeted sanctions announced on March 24, 2012. However, as discussed in detail in the report, there are other officials and authorities responsible for severe violations of human rights in Gerdab project who have not yet been sanctioned. Furthermore, the EU and other governments must place IRGC’s Center to Investigate Organised Crime on the sanctioned list as a human rights violating organisation.

Furthermore, as the official media outlet of the Center to Investigate Organized Crime as well as a tool for repression and widespread violation of the rights of citizens and cyber activists, Gerdab website must be made inaccessible by internet users because of systematic and continuous violation of international human rights.

However, most importantly, Justice for Iran demands a halt on carrying out any of the sentences issued in this case, from execution and life imprisonment to short term imprisonment sentences, and demands the accused to be provided with a fair trial respecting all principles of human rights.