Maziar Bahari

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Protesters rally in Tehran on Saturday. (Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press)

On Thursday, Dec. 28, a group of people gathered in the city of Mashhad and demonstrated against the Iranian government’s economic policies. This demonstration happened in a city that is holy for 250 million Shiite Muslims around the world; it is where Reza, the 8th Shiite imam, or saint, is buried. Imam Reza’s shrine is also a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that owns a number of industries, banks, hospitals and, of course, seminaries across Iran. The conglomerate runs under the supervision of the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The presence of the Imam Reza conglomerate makes Mashhad the third-most-important city in Iran, after the capital Tehran and the city of Qom, where most Iranian grand ayatollahs live.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranians listened to a Friday prayer speech by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2009. Newsha Tavakolian/Polaris, for The New York Times

Seven years ago, I heard the name of a prominent Iranian diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, at least 118 times. That was how many days I spent imprisoned in Iran for doing my job as a journalist — and how many days I was beaten by an intelligence officer in the hard-line Revolutionary Guards. He demanded that I falsely confess to being a C.I.A. agent and invent false stories that Mr. Zarif had connections to Western intelligence agencies. Rather than cooperate, I somehow withstood the daily torture.

This month Mr. Zarif, now Iran’s foreign minister, has been in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting, alongside other Iranian diplomats and President Hassan Rouhani.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dear Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,

Your government and supporters think of you as God’s representative on earth. Your official title is “Supreme Leader,” so you are responsible for all the wrongs and rights that happen in our country.

You have also been called the “No. 1 enemy of journalists in the world” because your government has arrested dozens of them since the presidential elections in June 2009. More than 60 are still in your prisons.

I was unfortunate enough to know firsthand how your agents treat journalists. I was kept in your jail for 118 days simply for being a reporter. For much of that time I was tortured.…  Seguir leyendo »

Since I was released from Tehran's notorious Evin Prison last month, the questions have come again and again: Can we still talk to these people? Should the Obama administration engage in dialogue with Iran? What should the West do in nuclear negotiations? After being jailed, interrogated and beaten by the Revolutionary Guards for 118 days for reporting honestly on the disputed June 12 presidential elections, I am often expected to oppose any dialogue. But the West still needs Iran and should continue talking to it -- no matter what it has done to people like me.

Inside Evin, I was forced to confess that I was part of an insidious Western media conspiracy to overthrow the regime.…  Seguir leyendo »