Iran dissidents: Behind confessions, prison ordeal

BEIRUT — A prisoner forced to confess tries to speak with his eyes — to tell those watching that he's admitting to crimes he never committed because he's been broken by days alone in a cell and interrogators' threats to his family and loved ones.

And because it's the only way to get free, said Ebrahim Nabavi, a popular Iranian satirist whose televised confession came after he spent more than three months in prison in 2000 for his written jabs at the ruling clerics.

Nabavi believes he saw the same thing happen as he watched two of Iran's most prominent pro-reform politicians make televised confessions last week during the country's biggest political trial in years.

The confessions by former vice president Mohammad Abtahi and Mohammad Atrianfar were a dramatic centerpiece of the trial of some 100 opposition figures arrested in the crackdown following the disputed June 12 presidential election.

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