Iran: Farshid Fathi tells of mental torture in prison

Farshid Fathi

Farshid Fathi, a Christian convert activist who is currently serving his six year term in the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran, explained in a letter how he has been subjected to severe mental torture.

"In order to put him under mental pressure, his interrogators and prison guards lied to him in saying that they had arrested his wife and that his father had a heart attack," said a story in Mohabat News, the Iranian Christian News Agency.

Fathi, a Christian Theology graduate, had been arrested on December 26, 2010 and transferred to the notorious ward 209 of Evin Prison. He spent a full year in uncertainty there and then five more months in solitary confinement.

Mohabat News went onto say that Farshid Fathi, born in 1979, is the father of two children. On February 4, 2012, branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced him to 6 years in prison for being the "chief director of a foreign organization in Iran and raising funds for the organisation". Although Christian advocacy groups and churches protested the court's decision, it was approved by the appeals court as well.

In his letter, the Christian pastor revealed that he had been defamed, subjected to vigorous mental torment, insults and humiliation.

In another part of his letter, which was also published by the "JARAS" website, he wrote, "I was told falsely that my wife had been arrested as well and that I needed to give my children's custody to someone for a temporary period of time. I was also informed falsely that my dad had a heart attack and was hospitalised. Then they wouldn't give me any follow up news on whether he was dead or alive, while it was all intended to put me under mental pressure."

"The letter only described a small fraction of what Mr Fathi has gone through in the infamous Evin prison," said Mohabat News.

In a previous letter, Mr Fathi had written to his father, in which he said, "Often I have been sorrowful because of certain things, but I have never been a slave of sadness. Often I have been insulted, humiliated and accused, but I have never doubted my identity in Christ. Some have deserted me, some have fled from me, of course in no way do I pass judgment on them. My Lord has never left me."

Farshid Fathi's wife and two children, Rossana and Bardia, were forced to leave Iran due to pressures from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.

"They fled to Turkey in August 2011, where they applied for refugee status in the Canadian Embassy. They left Turkey for Canada in February 2013 and settled there," added the Mohabat News story.

Earlier, Mehdi Khazali, an Iranian government critic, and son of a right-wing Islamic cleric and former member of the Council of Guardians, Ayatollah Khazali, who had been Farshid's cellmate last year, described Farshid's personality in an interview.

He said, "Farshid was a polite young man with a warm smile always on his face. All prisoners in ward 350 remember nothing but kindness from him. He had an exemplary behaviour. We never saw him lose his temper. He was a kind person."

Although Farshid Fathi has served almost three years of his sentence in ward 350, with months in solitary confinement, he has never been granted a temporary leave permit.