Sattar Beheshti

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Beheshti, 35, a critical blogger, died under suspicious and unclear circumstances while in government custody, according to news reports.

Police arrested Beheshti on October 30 on allegations of “acting against national security,” and held him temporarily at Tehran’s Evin Prison, Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi told the media in a weekly press conference on November 12, the state-supported Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported. The BBC Persian service, citing an unnamed source, said Beheshti was transferred from Evin to an unknown location on November 1. The blogger died two days later.

A press conference was held six days after reformist news websites initially reported Beheshti’s death and international human rights and press freedom groups pressured the government to explain the circumstances of the blogger’s death. In the press conference, Ejehi confirmed that Beheshti died in cyber police custody on November 3, according to ISNA. Ejehi said that the coroner’s office had provided a detailed report, saying wounds were found in five places on Beheshti’s body, including his hand, foot, back, and thigh, but that he had no fractures in his skull or any broken bones and that the doctor at Evin had said Beheshti was “extremely exhausted,” ISNA reported.

On November 6, authorities told Beheshti’s family to claim his body from the Kahrizak Medical Examiner’s Office and warned them not speak to the media, the reformist news website Kaleme reported.

Beheshti is believed to have died from suspected torture, news reports said. On November 10, Kaleme published a letter signed by 41 political prisoners in Evin Prison that said Beheshti’s body bore signs of torture and that he was beaten during interrogation, repeatedly threatened with death, and hung from his limbs from the ceiling. On November 8, Kaleme published a letter the website said came from the blogger in which he wrote that he had been subjected to “physical and verbal abuse” during his interrogations. The letter also said that any confessions he may have made were untrue and extracted under torture, the website reported.

Beheshti had written critical articles about the regime on his blog, Magalh 91, which specifically accused Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other high-ranking officials of poor policy decisions, corruption, and other abuses. In one of his last blog posts before his arrest, Beheshti said he faced constant harassment and threats from the security services. “Yesterday they threatened me, saying I should tell my mother that she would soon be wearing black clothes if I did not shut up,” he wrote on his blog.

Iran’s parliament announced on November 11 that they would fully investigate Beheshti’s death. The government-owned news website Iran Network said that three of Beheshti’s interrogators had been arrested, news reports said.