Response From Iranian Government to NewsHour Report About Dissidents


The Iranian flag flies at the Iranian permanent mission to the United Nations in Vienna. Photo by Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images.

On Friday’s NewsHour, special correspondent Spencer Michels reports on allegations the Iranian government is arresting people for criticizing the government. We reached out to the Iranian Mission at the United Nations to respond to the allegations raised in our report. Mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi agreed to respond to our questions in writing. You can read the unedited transcript below:

PBS NewsHour: We have obtained interviews with several Iranian journalists and activists and their spouses asserting that the Iranian government is arresting and imprisoning many dissidents simply for criticizing the regime. Does the government tolerate dissent? Why have so many people been arrested?

Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman, Iran Mission to the United Nations: According to Iran’s constitution, the political parties and groups enjoys the right of freedom of speech and free activity in the light of the country laws and regulations, then right now, there are many active political parties and group in Iran’s political sphere.

PBS NewsHour: One activist, attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, has been imprisoned, after defending juveniles and others, including Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. Sotoudeh and her husband claim her arrest was because “she insisted on going through with political prisoners’ cases,” and that she talked with the media. Could you comment?

Alireza Miryousefi: Ms. Sotoudeh has been duly prosecuted and convicted accordance to Iranian penal court and is serving her imprisonment duration. She has enjoyed her all rights including access to her attorney in accordance with the current laws and regulations. Also she has access to medical facilities and her regular visits with family.

PBS NewsHour: The U.S. State Department — in a report on human rights — says the government of Iran has carried out hundreds of executions without due process, arrested and tortured protesters and detained more journalists than nearly any country in the world. How do you respond?

Alireza Miryousefi: The U.S. has a long list of gross and systematic violation of human rights both at home and abroad. These violations have been repeatedly criticized by different U.N. mechanisms, NGOs and even recently by a former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter.

Besides the abhorrent story of the Guantanamo prison, there are many more acts and practices that simply count for blatant violation of international humanitarian law and human rights by the USA including but not limited to its unconditional support for the crimes committed by the Zionist regime; killing of innocent civilians by unmanned drone attacks; establishing secret detention centers in various parts of the world; humiliating and torturing detainees and using inhuman interrogating methods such as water boarding; deaths in custody, torture and ill treatment inflicted by United States military and non-military personnel or contract employees in detention facilities in overseas locations.

At the domestic level, different forms of discrimination against ethnic groups, blacks, immigrants and other people in vulnerable situations; continuation of depriving indigenous peoples of their rights; violation of minority rights; Islamo-phobia, defamation of Islam in the Media, incitement of hatred and insulting acts against Muslims and Islamic sanctity; unchecked power entrusted to the FBI, National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies to tap telephone conversations without court’s sanctions, as well as to intercept electronic and regular mail of individuals and organizations just on the grounds of suspicion to terrorism.

PBS NewsHour: The U.N. Human Rights office declared that Iranian authorities have embarked on a “severe clampdown” on journalists and human rights activists. How do you view that report?

Alireza Miryousefi: Organs of the United Nations are required to use reliable authentic sources in preparation of reports. The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly believes that the Special Rapporteur report, on the basis of ill-intended and biased sources of information gravely and irreparably damages the status, image and credibility of the United Nations and its affiliated bodies and will result in the erosion of confidence of governments and world public opinion in the organization and its reports.

The Islamic Republic of Iran further believes that leveling general allegations in the absence of authentic and reliable evidence aimed to serve propaganda and the exercise of pressure against particular independent states have no value and validity and are not worth the name of reports of the United Nations.

Unfortunately, the report of the Special Rapporteur does not meet the least requirements referred to above.

Watch Spencer Michels’ report:

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