VOA – An Iranian dissident living in Turkey says an Iranian court has handed her a one-year prison term for joining anti-government protests in Iran last year, when she says authorities detained and tortured her into making a false confession and tried to enlist her in a kidnap plot.
Speaking to VOA Persian from Turkey on October 28, 32-year-old Fatemeh Khoshrou said the Iranian judiciary sent her a digital notification of her one-year sentence on October 22. The notice, which she shared with VOA, said a Revolutionary Court in her western Iranian hometown of Khorramabad had issued the verdict after a trial in absentia on October 5.
The document showed that Khoshrou was convicted of multiple charges related to her involvement in the November 2019 nationwide street protests that were sparked by the Iranian government’s sharp increase in subsidized gas prices. She was found guilty of disrupting public order by taking part in illegal gatherings, leading riots, collaborating with hostile groups and sending footage of illegal gatherings to hostile actors based in Turkey.
Khoshrou said she had been living in Turkey when she traveled to Khorramabad to visit her family in November 2019 and joined the protests that had spread to the city. She said authorities arrested her on November 16 and interrogated her at several locations for more than 60 days until freeing her on a $23,000 bail in mid-January.
The dissident said Iranian security forces had searched her father’s home after her November 2019 arrest and seized her Iranian passport and Turkish residence card, preventing her from leaving Iran for months following her release. She said she finally returned to Turkey on August 22, shortly after Iranian authorities returned her travel documents to her.
In her first public comments about her November to January detention, Khoshrou said she was interrogated at Khorramabad prison and at a section of Tehran’s Evin prison operated by the intelligence unit of Iran’s top military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Khoshrou said her interrogators beat her repeatedly and threatened to arrest her family members unless she accepted their demands. She said they placed her in front of a camera multiple times to record forced confessions of crimes related to the protests and demanded that she help them to kidnap a man from Turkey in return for being allowed to go back there.
The dissident said the Iranian agents wanted her to lure the man to the Turkish-Iranian border as part of the alleged kidnapping plot.
“They tortured me so much mentally and physically that I accepted whatever they said,” Khoshrou told VOA.
There has been no comment from Iranian officials about Khoshrou’s case in state media in recent months.
VOA has withheld publication of details about the man whom Khoshrou said is the target of the Iranian agents out of concern for his safety.
It was not clear if Iranian authorities allowed Khoshrou to return to Turkey in August with the expectation that she would help them to abduct the man and return him to Iran. Since her return, the dissident said she has refused to cooperate with such a plot.
Khoshrou also said she has been given 20 days from receiving notice of her one-year sentence to file an appeal.
Iranian security forces killed hundreds of people in the November 2019 protests and arrested thousands more in a violent crackdown on the mostly peaceful demonstrations.