Iran confirms leaked footage of harsh conditions in Evin Prison

Tehran, Iran – A top Iranian prisons official has confirmed the veracity of footage leaked by hackers that shows the harsh conditions inmates of Tehran’s Evin Prison suffer.

The surveillance camera footage, leaked on Monday, has no sound but shows clearly the pain some prisoners go through at Evin.

Mohammad Mehdi Haj Mohammadi, head of Iran’s prisons organisation, said in a tweet on Tuesday he accepts responsibility for the “unacceptable behaviours” depicted in the footage and vowed the perpetrators will face repercussions.

“I also apologise to God, our dear supreme leader, the great nation and the honourable prison guards, whose efforts will certainly not be ignored due to these errors,” Mohammadi wrote.

درخصوص تصاویر #زندان_اوین؛ مسئولیت این رفتارهای غیر قابل قبول را پذیرفته و ضمن تعهد به تلاش بر عدم تکرار چنین وقایع تلخ و برخورد جدی با عوامل خاطی؛ از خداوندمتعال، رهبر عزیزمان، ملت بزرگوار و زندانبانان شریف که البته زحماتشان تحت تأثیر این خطاها، نادیده گرفته نخواهد شد،#عذرخواهم. — محمدمهدی حاج محمدی (@Mmhajmohammadi) August 24, 2021

One video showed a gaunt man being dropped in the courtyard and dragged through the prison semi-conscious while guards and staff watch unfazed. At one point, a cleric passes by the injured man.

Several videos show inmates being beaten by prison guards. An image shows a tiny solitary confinement cell, blank walls and a squat toilet.

Most of the videos are timestamped 2020 and 2021, with guards wearing masks in some of them as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Iranian prisons.

The hackers also managed to gain access to the prison’s control room. A clip shows a guard spring to his feet when the many monitors in front of him flash red and then go black one by one. Guards storm in, some taking out their phones to film the situation, while others make hurried phone calls.

The group that carried out the hack calls itself Edalat-e Ali, or “Ali’s Justice”. It is a reference to the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, an imam revered by Shia Muslims.

Evin Prison, which houses political prisoners and dual national inmates who are mostly imprisoned on spying and propaganda charges, has for years been criticised for human rights abuses, including by the UN special rapporteur for human rights. It is also blacklisted by both the US and the EU.

Iran has seen several high-profile hacks in recent months, including an apparent cyberattack on its railway system earlier this year, and a cyberattack on the country’s traffic police databases earlier this week.