Let My Colleagues Go
New York Times / MAZIAR BAHARI

Your government and supporters think of you as God’s representative on earth. Your official title is “Supreme Leader,” so you are responsible for all the wrongs and rights that happen in our country.

You have also been called the “No. 1 enemy of journalists in the world” because your government has arrested dozens of them since the presidential elections in June 2009. More than 60 are still in your prisons.

I was unfortunate enough to know firsthand how your agents treat journalists. I was kept in your jail for 118 days simply for being a reporter. For much of that time I was tortured.

But I do not hold any grudges. I am writing out of concern for my colleagues and the future of our country.

“Our future society will be a free society and all the elements of oppression, cruelty, and force will be destroyed.” It is not I who am saying this. It was your predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, who said those words to a reporter from Der Spiegel on Nov. 7, 1978. The only accusation against many reporters who are languishing in Iranian jails is that they held a mirror to the actions of the Iranian government. They did not want to overthrow it. They never took up arms. All of them did their job as peacefully as journalists elsewhere around the world.

Your government issued me a press card. But I was coerced to make a false televised confession admitting that I was acting as an agent of evil Western media. I was forced to say the media ar... >>>

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