February 19, 2016
A woman who was imprisoned in the United States five years for helping smuggle night vision goggles to Iran now charges the Pasdaran with forcing her to leave Iran this year.
Shahrzad Mir-Gholikhan is now living in Oman. Her case in the United States was one of the oddest ones ever seen. She volunteered to come to the United States and face trial to prove her innocence. She was found guilty. She was later granted a re-trial, only to be sentenced to an even longer prison term than after her first trial.
Since returning to Iran in 2012, she has worked for Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, most recently as a special inspector working personally for Mohammad Sarafraz, the director of all state broadcasting. Sarafraz said Saturday that Mir-Gholikhan had been accused of espionage and ordered to leave Iran.
If true, it would likely be the first time anyone accused of espionage had been sent out of the country rather than sent to trial.
Mir-Gholikhan maintains she is innocent of both the Pasdar and the American charges. With regard to the US charges, she says that her then-husband, Mahmoud Seif, tricked her, using her office to organize his illegal deals and using her as a translator.
Mir-Gholikhan told IranWire the Pasdar intelligence officers treated her appallingly. “They interrogated me for nine hours. They accused me of espionage, acting as an infiltration agent and of having illegitimate relationships,” she said.
Mir-Gholikhan also claims she was tortured in prison in the US, but that the Pasdaran forced her to stay silent. “People were shouting, ‘Death to America’ in the streets, but I could not complain against America, which had tortured me,” she told IranWire.
After her release from the US prison, she returned to Iran. The Pasdaran, she said, forced her to sign a statement saying she would not lodge a complaint against the United States. According to a source who spoke to IranWire, the Pasdar security agents were incensed by Mir-Gholikhan’s revelations because the night vision goggles had been used in both domestic and foreign operations.
Despite her outrage at the way she says she was treated in the US, she says nothing compares to the psychological trauma she suffered at the hands of the Pasdaran. She says she was kicked out of the country as part of a political struggle in Iran.
According to Mir-Gholikhan, her situation worsened after she made a documentary about her experiences in the United States and her religious beliefs last summer. “A few days after I had my interview and my documentary was aired on YouTube, my laptop and my documents were stolen from my car,” Mir-Gholikhan says. She said it was suspicious that the thieves did not take any money or valuables, both of which were also in the car.
In September 2015, the Pasdaran summoned her. Against Sarafraz’s advice, Mir-Gholikhan reported as requested.
Sarafraz said the Pasdaran have no evidence that Mir-Gholikhan was involved in espionage. “I believe it is necessary for me to explain things,” he said, “because she has been treated illegally. But after a month, no satisfactory answer — not even a piece of paper explaining their actions – has been provided.”
The story about Mir-Gholikhan broke just two days after a female news anchor for PressTV, the English language arm of state broadcasting, charged publicly that she had been sexually harassed by her PressTV boss. (See last week’s Iran Times, page 10.)