The U.S. has strongly condemned Iran for the torture and death of Iranian blogger and labor activist Sattar Beheshti (35), who as reported, died earlier this week while undergoing interrogation in Evin Prison.
“We are appalled by reports that Iranian authorities tortured and killed blogger and activist Sattar Beheshti during a prison interrogation. Besheshti had been arrested for a crime no greater than expressing his political opinion online,” said Victoria Nuland, U.S. Department spokesperson.
Nuland said that the Iranian government must “investigate this murder, hold accountable those responsible for Beheshti’s arrest, torture, and killing, and immediately cease all reported harassment of Beheshti’s family.”
GVF reported that Beheshti’s death occured just one week after his arrest by Iran’s cyber police. Beheshti was arrested by Iran’s cyber police on national security charges on October 30, who also confiscated the activist’s personal belongings, including his computer and handwritten notes. Beheshti, the family’s only breadwinner, was reportedly active on Facebook.
Iran’s cyber police was launched in January 2011 as part of the nation’s crackdown on online activism.
“Sattar Beheshti is just one of thousands of victims of the Iranian government’s campaign of violent repression and efforts to curtail basic freedoms at all costs,” Nuland said.
Condemnation Coincides With US Extending State Of Emergency Order
Friday’s condemnation comes on the same day that President Barack Obama extended a state of emergency order against Iran, which has now been in effect since 1979 when an Executive Order was first signed by President Jimmy Carter.
That Executive Order allows the President to impose sanctions “to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the situation in Iran.”
Obama said he signed the extension, “because our relations with Iran have not yet returned to normal, and the process of implementing the agreements with Iran, dated January 19, 1981, is still under way, the national emergency declared on November 14, 1979, must continue in effect beyond November 14, 2012.”
Friday’s news follows upon the U.S. Department of State reporting yesterday to Congress the designations of four Iranian individuals and five Iranian entities for having engaged in censorship or other activities that prohibit, limit, or penalize freedom of expression or assembly by citizens of Iran, or that limit access to print or broadcast media, including by jamming international satellite broadcasts into Iran, and related activities.
Those designated include Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Reza Taghipour, who has been found responsible for ordering the jamming of satellite television broadcasts and restricting internet connectivity.
Also sanctioned were Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and its Press Supervisory Board, which have limited freedom of expression through their censorship and closure of numerous newspapers and detention of journalists.