Signs of Torture
Iran announced that it had launched an investigation following calls by
international rights groups and Western countries, including the United
States, which called the blogger's death "murder." Forty-one prisoners from Ward 350 of Tehran's notorious Evin prison,
where Beheshti was reportedly held for one night, issued a letter last
week claiming that signs of torture were visible on the blogger's body.
The prisoners, including such well-known figures as lawyer Abdolfatah
Soltani and human rights activist Hassan Assadi Zeydabadi, wrote that
Beheshti had been beaten during interrogations and hanged by his limbs
from the ceiling.
Beheshti had issued an official letter to the head of the prison on
October 31 complaining about torture and beatings during his
interrogation. Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Ejei said on November 12 that the
blogger's body and skull did not show any fractures. He said Beheshti
had complained about his heart while in custody but that an examination
by the prison's doctor did not find any problems. The judiciary, however, has confirmed that five bruises were found on the blogger's body.
Meanwhile, several lawmakers have suggested that Beheshti did not die of torture. Mohammad Hassan Asefri, a member of the parliament's National Security
Committee, said there is no evidence of a "blow" or of "feeding
[Beheshti] with anything" that would have led to his death. He claimed
the coroner's office had determined cardiac arrest to be the cause of
Lawmaker Mohammad Reza Mohseni Sani said Beheshti is likely to have died from "natural causes." Both lawmakers were speaking on November 13 after a meeting with the
parliament's National Security Committee, Tehran's prosecutor-general,
and police officials, including the head of the cyberpolice.
Another lawmaker, Javad Karimi Ghodoussi, was quoted as saying that the
"murder" of Beheshti is "suspicious," but not because of any wrongdoing
by the authorities. Ghodoussi told the hard-line "Bulletin News," which is said to have ties
to security circles, that "the sedition movement" -- a term Iranian
officials use to refer to the opposition Green Movement -- could have
been involved in the case.
'Shut Your Big Mouth'
Along with generating international concern, the case is being closely
watched by many Iranians, who are concerned over the persecution of
bloggers critical of the government. A female citizen journalist in Iran uploaded a video of her visit to
what she identified as Beheshti's grave at Robat Karim's cemetery, which
was shared on Facebook by the Campaign on Behalf of Political Prisoners.
Beheshti had said in a blog post before his death that he had been threatened with death. "They threatened me yesterday and said, 'Your mother will soon wear
black because you don't shut your big mouth,'" he wrote a day before his