Six Weeks after His Anti-Regime Speech:
Heavy Verdict against Saharkhiz
04 Sep 2006
Seyyed Hossein Hosseinian, the head of Tehran’s General District Court number
1083, announced that the special court for the Press has sentenced Issa Saharkhiz, editor of the monthly magazine Aftab (Sun) to four years imprisonment and five years denial of press rights. Additionally, the press credentials of both Akhbar-e Eghtesadi (Economic News) have been revoked. .
Seyyed Hossein Hosseinian, the head of Tehran’s General District Court number 1083, announced that the special court for the Press has sentenced Issa Saharkhiz, editor of the monthly magazine Aftab (Sun) to four years imprisonment and five years denial of press rights. Additionally, the press credentials of both Akhbar-e Eghtesadi (Economic News) have been revoked. .
After handing down this sentence, Isa Saharkhiz, while criticizing the way this case was handled by the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic, said in an interview with BBC Persian news : “I believe that the leader of the Islamic Republic has acted unjustifiably in this regard; in a system where he is the highest official of the land and the judiciary is under his command, we cannot expect justice to be served.”
In the same interview with BBC regarding the closing down of both Aftab and Akhbar Eghtesadi, he said: “Even though I have the right to appeal, I am certain that Mr. Khamenei has a direct role in my sentence. Therefore I will not pursue this matter; I will await my sentencing and I am ready for it.”
The former head of managers of the press in the Ministry of Guidance stated that the closing down of the press comes as a direct order by Khamenei, and he said: “He has no tolerance for any sort of criticism and if anyone directly says anything about him, he becomes vengeful and this will eventually manifest itself in the verdict against that person.”
The verdict against Saharkhiz took place six weeks after his speech in Shiraz in which he commemorated the18 Tir (July 8, 1999) student uprising at Tehran’s dormitories. “We commemorate this day because this event was nothing more than a show of force by violent elements and gangs who were anti- reform, military and intelligence thugs and bands who were hiding behind a party which is under the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei, who controls every function of the government and the country. While we have constantly warned of such actions and behavior, we must emphasize that what is happening today in our country is nothing less than the total domination of one person and that even the cosmetic government, the Majlis and the judiciary are pawns of one man; they are nothing more than puppets whose hands and feet function invisibly and who play their respective roles behind the scene.”
Shortly after this speech, both newspapers were shut down. “Akhbar Eghtesadi” had already been banned from publication for six years. This paper was among the 18 papers and journals which had been temporarily banned in the spring of 2000. After three and a half years of publication and 35 issues, the monthly paper “Aftab” was added to nearly 110 publications against which a “temporary ban” had been issued.
Mr. Saharkhiz, after pointing out his contribution to the victory of the Islamic Revolution, his presence during the war and participation at the front, said: “more than six years have passed since it was announced on Television that the paper “Akhbar Eghtesadi”is a platform for the enemy and that Issa Saharkhiz as its editor is one of its key figures. It was claimed that we are friends and accomplices of the US and are paid by the Americans with huge sums of dollars. We are the sworn enemies of Islam! I have asked for proof or documents corroborating such allegations. While the newspaper is shut down, or if they have found any sort of proof at our offices, they should tell the public how they have come up with such allegations.”
He then added: if they do not do what I ask, if I am not rehabilitated and if they do not compensate us for the enormous costs, I would then naturally take my case to domestic and international courts to complain against all those who are instigators of these actions. Or maybe I will have to wait in the next world to shout and ask for justice and my rights.”