May 5, 2006
The arbitrary arrest of Ramin Jahanbegloo shows the perilous state of academic freedom and free speech in Iran today. This prominent scholar should be celebrated for his academic achievements, not interrogated in one of Iran’s most infamous prisons.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

One of Iran’s most prominent scholars, Ramin Jahanbegloo, is being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where he is at risk of being tortured, Human Rights Watch said today. Iranian authorities must immediately release Jahanbegloo, who is being held without charge after nearly a week in incommunicado detention.

A prominent philosopher who has written extensively on cultural and philosophical topics, Jahanbegloo is director of Contemporary Studies at the Cultural Research Bureau, a private institution in Tehran. His academic writings include more than 20 books in English, French and Persian. He has also written for newspapers and magazines in Iran and abroad.

“The arbitrary arrest of Ramin Jahanbegloo shows the perilous state of academic freedom and free speech in Iran today,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This prominent scholar should be celebrated for his academic achievements, not interrogated in one of Iran’s most infamous prisons.”

The authorities detained Jahanbegloo at Tehran Airport on or around Thursday, April 27. Officials refused to acknowledge his detention until Wednesday, May 3, when Tehran’s deputy prosecutor general, Mahmoud Salarkia, confirmed Jahanbegloo’s detention in an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency.

Also on Wednesday, the Fars News Agency quoted the chief of prisons in Tehran Province, Sohrab Soleimani, as saying that Jahanbegloo is being held in Tehran’s Evin prison. Neither official gave any reason for Jahanbegloo’s arrest. An unnamed Judiciary official told the daily Etemad-e Melli that charges against Jahanbegloo “will be announced after the interrogations.”

“Iran’s Judiciary is notorious for coercing confessions by means of torture and ill-treatment,” Stork said. “We hold the Iranian government entirely responsible for Jahanbegloo’s well-being.”

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