Iran parliament orders probe of blogger‘s death

Sattar Beheshti was tortured to death in prison for criticising Iran’s regime on the Internet, say opposition activists
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First Published: Sun, Nov 11 2012. 09 02 PM IST
A file photo of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Atta Kenare/AFP
A file photo of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Atta Kenare/AFP
Updated: Sun, Nov 11 2012. 09 03 PM IST
Tehran: Parliament has launched a probe into the death in detention of an Iranian blogger and will make its report public, the ISNA news agency on Sunday cited deputy speaker Mohammad Hassan Abutorabi as saying.
Opposition activists say blogger Sattar Beheshti, 35, was tortured to death in prison for criticising Iran’s regime on the Internet.
“The national security commission is aware of this case and has begun an investigation,” Abutorabi was quoted as saying.
“I have asked the head of the commission, Aladin Borujerdi, to inform parliamentarians and the public once the investigation is completed,” he added.
According to opposition groups, Beheshti’s family was asked on 7 November to collect his body from the Kahrizak detention centre in Tehran, where he had been held since being arrested at the end of October after criticising the government on the Internet.
In the last blog he wrote before his arrest, Beheshti had said he was being constantly harassed by telephone by members of the security services.
“Yesterday they threatened to tell my mother that she would soon be wearing black if I did not shut up,” he wrote in one post.
France and the United States last week called on Iran to investigate the circumstances of Beheshti’s death after rights group Amnesty International said he may have died under torture.
“The Iranian authorities must immediately carry out an independent investigation into his death, including whether torture played a part in it,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.
“Fears that Sattar Beheshti died as a result of torture in an Iranian detention facility, after apparently lodging a complaint about torture are very plausible, given Iran’s track record when it comes to deaths in custody,” she added.
Washington said it was “appalled by reports” that the blogger was “tortured and killed” while in prison.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Beheshti was “arrested for a crime no greater than expressing his political opinion online.”
A French foreign ministry spokesman said Paris was “profoundly shocked” to have learned of Beheshti’s death in custody.
“We call on the Iranian authorities to shed as much light as possible on the circumstances of his death,” he said.
“The repression of peacefully expressed dissident voices in Iran is unacceptable.”
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First Published: Sun, Nov 11 2012. 09 02 PM IST
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