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Bernard-Henri Lévy

Bernard-Henri Lévy

Posted: October 11, 2010 10:06 AM

I scarcely dare believe the news we've received from Iran.
I scarcely dare believe the authorities have committed the error, the insane and irreparable misdeed of arresting Sakineh's own son, Sajjad, as well as her attorney, Houtan Khian.
I scarcely dare believe that the regime is so unsure of its case, so afraid of seeing the truth -- that is, the innocence of Sakineh -- exposed in the light of day, that the simple act of granting two German journalists an interview could have motivated this raid, this collective punishment, this hostage-taking.
I scarcely dare imagine -- in truth, I cannot imagine -- the intellectual contortions Iranian "justice" will have to go through to justify such an extreme, arbitrary act, like nothing we have seen since the early days of the Islamic Republic, like nothing we have seen anywhere except, perhaps, in North Korea or, long ago, in China during the Cultural Revolution, or Cambodia.
Are they going to explain that Sajjad, a young ticket taker on the buses of Tabriz, the adolescent whose father was murdered and who is fighting to have his mother freed is, he too, suspected of murder? Of complicity in the murder of his own father? Of complicity, while they're at it, in the adultery his own mother is accused of? What insanity are they going to invent? What Ubuesque charges are they going to produce this time? Or will they simply tell us that the papers of the two journalists from Bild were not in order, that they were in the country without professional visas, and that this is what entitled a commando of Basiji to lock up everyone, in utter disregard for international law and diplomatic practice, as well as pure and simple reason?
As I write these lines, the news of the arrest of Sajjad and of Houtan Khian has not as yet been fully confirmed.
The German government, for its part, is trying to elucidate the circumstances of this bizarre and incredible incident. But 'incident' isn't really the word.
There is no incident in this ongoing tragedy that has been called "the Sakineh affair".
And, on this day after the World Day Against the Death Penalty, in this world where the mere idea of stoning incites feelings of absolute horror in all our consciences, we must, more than ever, repeat: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is guilty of nothing; Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani should be exonerated. They must put and end to this lugubrious masquerade of the persecution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani that has been going on for six years. And they must, for the time being, provide us with news of Sajjad, her son, and of Houtan Khian, her attorney. And if they have been incarcerated, they must be freed at once.

The Probable Arrest of Sakineh's Son and Her Lawyer by Armin Arefi, French journalist and author
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and her attorney, Houtan Khian, were apparently arrested by Iranian authorities in the city of Tabriz while being interviewed by two German journalists, we learned yesterday afternoon from Mina Ahadi, spokeswoman of the International Committee Against Stoning, who was translating the interview by telephone from Frankfurt (Germany).
"Sajjad (Ghaderzadeh) had accepted to grant this interview on the condition that it take place in the office of the attorney, Houtan Khian. I was in the middle of translating the interview when a disturbance occurred, around 5:00 PM. The German journalist asked what was going on and was forced to hang up. Since then, the cell phones of Sajjad, Houtan Khian, and the two journalists have all four been switched off."
La Règle du jeu, in permanent contact with Sakineh's son and her lawyer, have tried, in vain, to call Sajjad Ghaderzadeh and Houtan Khian since yesterday afternoon.
This morning, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh's family confirmed that Sakineh's son did not come home last night. As for the office of Houtan Khian, it has been closed by the Iranian authorities. At this time, no one knows where the four men have been taken.
According to Mina Ahadi, who spoke with the German Foreign Affairs ministry, the German journalist and the photographer who were conducting the interview did not return to their hotel either.
If confirmed, the arrest of Sajjad and of Houtan Khian, who have remained the last two sources of information concerning Sakineh as they courageously dared to break the silence, despite intimidation on the part of the government, would be a tragic piece of news, but also a cruel confession of guilt on the part of an Iranian justice system that will henceforth stop at nothing to silence any voice expressing the disturbing truth.
Houtan Khian, Sakineh's attorney, was summoned by the Iranian Intelligence ministry and subjected to a severe interrogation, obliged to stand for twelve hours, in an effort to make him shut up about the state of his client. Iranian intelligence has also threatened to have him disbarred if he does not obey their orders.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, condemned to death by stoning for adultery, still risks being stoned at any moment. She has been locked up in the «special quarter» of the prison of Tabriz since August 11th and has been denied any contact with her attorney and her son since that date.