Revolutionary Guards Coerced Iranian-Canadian Software Developer to Spy on Internet Activists

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Iranian-Canadian software developer, who was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards during a visit to Iran in January and released after agreeing to serve as an informant for the Guard’s intelligence service, makes his experiences public in order to prevent his family in Iran from being harassed.

Behdad Esfahbod, a 37-year-old tech professional who worked for Facebook at the time of his visit to Iran, was arrested by four men in civilian clothes with a warrant from the Revolutionary Guards on allegations of “activity against the security of the country. Islamic regime and cooperation with entities. ”

In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda, Esfahbod said the Revolutionary Guards detained him in the warden enclave of Evin Prison in Tehran and threatened to view him as an American spy responsible for the crushing of the Ukrainian flight shot down by Revolutionary Guards on January 8 over Tehran.

In an article published on Medium on August 17, Esfahbod described how he was held in solitary confinement for seven days, interrogated for more than six hours a day and subjected to two episodes of psychological torture to force him to “cooperate”.

His interrogators, interested in his connections to human rights activists and software developers outside Iran, downloaded all of his private data from Google, social media and other apps. Esfahbod told Radio Farda that the guard searched their data and devices for information about groups developing proxy servers to allow free internet access for Iranian users.

Esfahbod recalled that after the guard found no compromising information on his devices, they told him that he would be allowed to leave Iran provided he “cooperates” in establishing contact with these groups. ‘interest and provide the custody with information about them upon return to North America. Under duress, he accepted the deal, he said.

Esfahbod was released on bail and returned to Canada, but became paranoid after returning, avoiding contact with other people for weeks, and quitting his job on Facebook. When he informed Canadian authorities of his situation, he claimed officials told him they were unable to help him because he entered Iran with his Iranian passport.

Things got worse when Esfahbod ignored repeated messages from his interrogators to establish contact after his return to Canada. After he remained silent, the guard sent him a notice to his sister’s residence in Iran, requiring him to report for “further questioning” in Tehran within five days. The summons forced him to go public with his story, he said.

“I will certainly not return to Iran,” he told Radio Farda, adding that he was very worried for his family in Iran. “I have decided to make a media disclosure, which might help support my family.”


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