II. Methodology

The Iranian government does not allow non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch to enter the country for the purposes of unimpeded investigations into human rights abuses. In addition, many activists inside Iran are not comfortable carrying out extended conversations on human rights issues either over the telephone or over email. As documented in this report, the Iranian government often accuses its critics of being agents of foreign agendas. Many activists expressed to Human Rights Watch that they fear governmental surveillance of their phone and email conversations.

For this report, Human Rights Watch interviewed former Evin 209 detainees who are student activists, women’s rights campaigners, and journalists. Human Rights Watch also spoke with family members of former Evin 209 detainees. In addition, Human Rights Watch consulted with experts in Iranian law and politics, some of whom were also formerly detained in Evin 209.

With the exception of three conversations over the phone and via email, Human Rights Watch conducted all of the interviews for this report using online messenger services. Human Rights Watch has a working relationship with a number of prominent Iranian activists and human rights lawyers who provided information for this report and introduced Human Rights Watch to the individuals interviewed. Human Right Watch also conducted in person, email, and phone interviews with Iranian student activists, women’s rights campaigners, and journalists who are currently in the United States and Canada.

In the case of all who remain in Iran and several who are currently abroad, Human Rights Watch has withheld names and locations out of concern for the security of interviewees and their family members.

Human Rights Watch on December 22, 2007 wrote to the head of Iran's Judiciary, Sayyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, and Minister of Information, Gholam Hussein Mohseni Ejhei, with questions about our findings but to January 4, 2008 received no responses.