Maziar Bahari’s Story

Maziar Bahari has written a book about his story in 2009, and now in the US, he talks about his book. On June 21, 2009, about 10 days after the coup, Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari was arrested by Khamenei’s dogs. They accused Bahari, who had covered Iran for Newsweek for more than a decade, of being a spy for the CIA, Mossad, MI6, and Newsweek !! Maziar Bahari is a naive Iranian journalist, but he is not a spy. In fact, he is too naive to be spy ! But Maziar Bahari’s story is very interesting and informative, and is a part of the story of the Iranian movement in 2009. Now lets take a look at Bahari’s story and what he said about his story in some articles like this one . His naive view and analysis of the regime, people’s movement, etc are so funny, but despite these stupidities (that have been omitted from our summary), his story has many good and interesting points. Here are a summary of Maziar Bahari’s story in 2009:

“They released me on bail. Before I was released, they asked me to sign a paper saying when I leave Iran, I’m going to cooperate with the government and I’m going to spy for the government . They gave me an e-mail address … they kept on threatening me through my family members and sometimes they even called me in London … On the first day when they arrested me, they told me that they knew I was working for four different intelligence agencies: the CIA, Mossad, MI6 and Newsweek ! … The morning in June 2009, when they came for me, I was in the delicate space between sleep and wakefulness … “Mazi jaan, wake up,” my mother said. “There are four gentlemen here. They say they are from the prosecutors’ office. They want to take you away.” I opened my eyes. It was a few minutes before 8 a.m., and my mother was standing beside my bed -her small 83-year-old frame protecting me from the four men behind her. I sleep without clothes, and in my half-awake state, my first thought wasn’t that I was in danger, but that I was naked in a shrine. I felt ashamed and reached down to make sure the sheets were covering my body … They circled the room, surveying everything. I had been spending most of my time over the last two years with my fiancée, Paola, in London. We had got engaged six months earlier, and been preparing for our wedding and the birth of our child in four months time, and I had never really settled in at my mother’s house. … Heaps of books sat on the floor beside stacks of videos and DVDs and an untidy pile of laundry. “If you want, I can organize things and you can come back tomorrow ,” I said with a sorry smile. “Zerto pert nakon, stop talking shit ,” Rosewater said sharply. “Sit down and shut up. One more word, and I’ll beat you so badly, I’ll make your mother mourn for you ” … Dont worry,”‘ he told my mother with a smile as they led me away. Hes going to be our guest . There were five cars waiting outside, all unmarked. No one wore uniforms or showed badges. I was ordered to take off my glasses and don my blindfold. I took a last look around. We were on Kurdistan Highway driving north”

” ‘Welcome to Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, or whatever it is you Americans build ‘, a guard said to me after we arrived. He spoke with an Azerbaijani accent, and sounded older. Im not American, my brother, I said with a smile. You work for them, so youre one of them, he said. … I was taken to my cell … he said: What our brothers after the revolution have masterminded is how to break a mans soul without using much violence against his body. As I stepped into my cell I wondered how violent was without much violence. … A guard woke me and told me that after morning prayers I would meet again with my specialist, which is what the prison guards were told to call the interrogators. This would be my third session in 24 hours … “This is the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic as we know it , I told my editors at NEWSWEEK in a hastily written e-mail from Tehran on the night of June 20, 2009 … My words would come back to haunt me. The morning after I sent that e-mail, I was arrested and sent to Tehrans notorious Evin Prison, where I spent the next 118 days. My interrogator read me a Persian translation of that private message while I sat blindfolded in a dark room. He punched my head, kicked my back, and slapped my face and neck repeatedly while he demanded an explanation for how I had dared compare Khamenei to a decadent tyrant like the Shah . … Mr. Rosewater called Jewish and Zionist elements. In his lexicon, Jewish persons were rare. There were only elements. I dont know if Mr. Rosewater had ever seen a Jewish person in his life. I think not. He had never been to the US either. But he believed that he knew everything there was to know about such people and such places, and his faith in his facts was unshakable … Everything was an education inside Evin -from the questions Mr. Rosewater asked, to what answers made him beat me, to physical details. … Mr. Rosewater was to be my nemesis for 118 days, 12 hours, and 54 minutes. He never told me his name. I saw his face only twice. The first time was when he led the team that arrested me. This prison can be the end of the line for you if you dont cooperate were his welcoming words. The second and last time was after I was freed -and warned by him never to speak of what had happened to me in jail. If I disobeyed, he said, I would be hunted down. !! We can put people in a bag no matter where in the world they are, he said menacingly. No one can escape from us.

“Mr. Rosewater was complaining about my written answers to questions about different individuals. Mr. Bahari, your answers are very general. We hope that you can give us more detailed answers, he said … We have interesting video footage of you . That may persuade you to be more cooperative. I could not imagine what that might be … I saw the flicker of a laptop monitor under my blindfold … then I heard the voice of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show … Only a few weeks earlier, Jason Jones, a correspondent for Stewarts satirical news program, interviewed me in a Tehran coffee shop, pretending to be a thick-skulled American. He dressed like some character out of a B movie about mercenaries in the Middle East -with a checkered Palestinian kaffiyeh around his neck and dark sunglasses . The interview was very short. The interrogators werent interested in what I was saying. They were fixated on Jason. Why is this American dressed like a spy ? asked the new man. He is pretending to be a spy. Its part of a comedy show I answered. Tell the truth! Mr. Rosewater shouted. What is so funny about sitting in a coffee shop with a kaffiyeh and sunglasses? Its just a joke. Nothing serious. Its stupid. … I hope you are not suggesting that he is a real spy . … Can you tell us why an American journalist pretending to be a spy has chosen you to interview? asked the man with the creases. He took my left ear in his hand and started to squeeze it as if he were wringing out a lemon … The fun is over! he said. He pushed me several times so hard that I almost fell on the ground. He then grabbed my arm and started to drag me along rapidly. He was breathing heavily and kept on repeating, Islamic kindness is over. You little spy, we will show you what we can do with you. Youre going to see what we are capable of . He shoved me into a room. Salaam, Mr. Bahari, he said. Do you know why you are here? His voice sounded familiar, like that of a well-known regime propagandist who has a show on the state TV . He definitely did not want to be recognized … Are you interested in a deal, Mr. Bahari … The next morning I was brought to Haj Aghas office. Cameras had been set up on tripods. Mr. Rosewater sat behind a curtain and fed questions to reporters from three state-run media outlets …After the confession, Haj Agha had promised, I would be freed soon. But the next time I saw the burly Mr. Rosewater, he closed the door to the interrogation room and for the first time started to beat me

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The beatings would continue from that moment until late September . Mr. Rosewater didnt beat me while asking me questions. He beat me before or after, simply to show he was in control … Weirdly, after long interrogation sessions Mr. Rosewater would sometimes start to open up. He would appear to grow weary of screaming and hitting me, kicking me, whipping me with his belt, and he would start rambling like a drunk confessing to the bartender after last call. Many of my friends have had to divorce their wives he told me one night. We have to work late shifts … Not many women accept that. … I was blindfolded as we drove. Mr. Rosewater slapped the back of my head. You want to be free, dont you? Yes, I said quietly. So, all you have to do is repeat what Haj Agha taught you about velvet revolutions, in a press conference . He smacked my legs until they stung … Waiting at the courthouse that morning, I had no idea that in another room more than 100 bedraggled prisoners -many of them leading reformist figures and former government ministers- were sitting in the dock as a prosecutor read out a long, outlandish account of their roles in the supposed velvet revolution. Two of them -former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi and former deputy interior minister Mohammad Atrianfar- were later brought out to confess their roles to state-media reporters . My turn came after lunch. We ate chicken kebabs and drank Dough … Early on, Mr. Rosewater had demanded my e-mail and Facebook passwords, so he had a very long list of contacts to grill me about, one by one … Mr. Rosewater was a young man, perhaps in his mid-30s …Once he asked me how I knew one lady friend: We met at a party, I said. A s-e-x party? I was taken aback. I dont know what a s-e-x party is, I said hesitantly. Ive never been to one. Yeah, right, he said sarcastically. He was convinced that any party where women went unveiled had to be depraved. His professors, he said, had taught him about free love in the West … One morning in September, the friendliest of the prison guards -a man with whom I exchanged obscene jokes !!- opened my cell door and said, Mr. Hillary Clinton, you can go have hava khori now. I was mystified. Why Hillary Clinton? I asked him. She talked about you last night, he said, referring to comments the U.S. secretary of state had made to her Canadian counterpart. This meant there was international pressure to free me. In September, I began to see signs that the Guards were under pressure to free me . First they allowed me to call my mother, then to share an iftar dinner with her during Ramadan. Then they let me call Paola -to warn her to stop giving interviews. (Bless her, she knew that the message meant she should do more ) … Eleven days before my release, I was moved out of solitary confinement and into a cell with four leading reformists, including Atrianfar. We had TV.”

In the days leading up to my release from Evin he had forced me to sign documents saying I would cooperate with the brothers in the Revolutionary Guards once outside the country. Hed given me a list of names to report on, including most of my Iranian friends in London and other Western cities. Hed given me the e-mail address to use. The night before I left the country, he asked to meet me at a hotel in downtown Tehran. His glare was just as menacing as on the day he arrested me … We made awkward small talk. He had brought a colleague with him, an older man whose voice I had heard occasionally during interrogations. We hope to have constructive cooperation with you in the future, the man said soothingly. I smiled and nodded politely. Mr. Rosewater was more blunt as he reminded me that the Guards could find me anywhere in the world. Remember the bag, Mr. Bahari. Remember the bag were his last words … I would later discover that I had been picked up by the intelligence division of the Sepah (IRGC) … During my imprisonment, my interrogator made me cry again and again that I had been mistaken about Khamenei -and actually, I meant it. (I was too naive)

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