Interview with Vahid Maleki, Nafiseh Azad’s Husband
Update on Case of Imprisoned Campaign Member Nafiseh Azad
Sunday 1 February 2009
Change for Equality—February 1, 2009: While officials announced yesterday that they would take Nafiseh Azad to the Revolutionary Courts to follow-up her objection to the temporary arrest order issued in her case, her husband Vahid Maleki was informed by officials at the Security Police Station One in Darband that the investigations regarding the case of Azad are ongoing and that she must remain in prison. The following is an interview with Vahid Maleki, regarding the latest updates in the case of Nafiseh Azad, a women’s rights activist and member of the Campaign who was arrested in the mountains in the north of Tehran on Friday January 30, 2009 along with two others while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition.
CFE: Mr. Maleki, how were you informed about the arrest of Nafiseh?
VM: I was informed on Friday at noon, when a friend of Nafiseh’s contacted me. I was told that Nafiseh was arrested in the Tochal mountains while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition. It seems that the police had intended to arrest one of her colleagues in the Campaign, by the name of Bigard Ebrahimi. Nafiseh and another member of the Campaign went forward to assist Bigard, and to ask the police not to arrest her, when they were also arrested. They were taken to the Security Police Station One in Darband and then transferred to Vozara Detention Center. I came to Tehran on Saturday January 31, 2009 in the morning to follow up on the case of my wife.
CFE: Have you been able to visit with Nafiseh since her arrest?
VM: On Saturday morning all the three individuals arrested were scheduled to go to the Revolutionary Courts, which of course took until noon. I was able to visit for a bit and talk to Nafiseh in front of the Revolutionary Courts when she was being transferred back to Vozara Detention Center.
CFE: How was she?
VM: She was in good spirits but it seemed that she had a cold.
CFE: Did you talk about her interrogations and how she had been treated in detention?
VM: As mentioned I was able to talk with Nafiseh shortly as she was being transferred back to Vozara Detention Center. From what I could gather, she was interrogated at Vozara Detention Center. Nafiseh explained that they had questioned her regarding how she was arrested and also the collection of signatures as well as other issues which are unrelated to her arrest. She seemed upset about this fact.
When they brought Nafiseh out of the Revolutionary Courts, she explained that the Investigative Judge had charged her with "actions against national security through the spreading of propaganda against the state" and had issued a temporary arrest order extending her time in detention. But for the other two activists arrested along with Nafiseh, the judge had issued a bail order for a third party guarantee, which meant that they could be released with the guarantee of a third party. Nafiseh had objected to both the temporary arrest order and the charge against her. She was told that they would bring her to the Revolutionary Courts to follow up her objection on Sunday. Nafiseh objected to the temporary arrest order and the charges brought against her because she believes that the collection of signatures is not a crime. Additionally she had explained that she had not been arrested during signature collection, rather that she had accompanied Ms. Bigard when the police arrested her. But the investigative judge told her that the investigations in her case are ongoing and the continuation of her arrest is related to another charge.
So my question is this: how can you arrest someone for one reason, but question that person on a different issue?
CFE: What have you done to follow up on the case of your husband?
VM: When I went to the Security Police Station One in Darband this morning, I was faced with contradictory responses from officials there. Once I was told that they were trying to complete the investigations and close the case then when I inquired further they told me that the judge in charge of the case is not present and that we need to wait until tomorrow. At any rate, they informed me that Nafiseh would remain in Vozara Detention Center today. Along with a few of Nafiseh’s friends we waited until noon to see if we could get more information, but to no avail. They emphasized again that they were trying to complete the investigations and that no court would be held. They even refused me the opportunity to get my wife some personal belongings and clothes, but did allow me to send her some food. I will go to the Security Police Station One tomorrow. Hopefully I will be provided more specific information about the case of my wife at that point.
CFE: What do you think about Nafiseh’s involvement in the One Million Signatures Campaign?
VM: Nafiseh believes in her involvement in the One Million Signatures Campaign and has adjusted her life according to this belief and involvement. I agree with the decision she has made in this respect and support her fully.
I should mention that they had summoned Nafiseh for interrogation by telephone on a couple of different occasions, but she had requested a written summons. I think that her arrest while collecting signatures has served as a good excuse for security officials to interrogate her about other issues as well. This arrest occurred based on the presumption that she was collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition, but signature collection is by no means a criminal act—and definitely not an action that would endanger national security. In other similar cases where Campaign activists have been arrested while collecting signatures, as far as I am aware, they have been acquitted by the courts. To my complete surprise, I see that the manner in which they have treated the two people arrested along with Nafiseh, is very different than the treatment my wife has received. I am sorry that security officials feel that they have a right to treat citizens in this arbitrary manner.