Home > Uncategorized > TEH TAIMS : Former cellmate of Ayatollah Khamenei tells of his six-year torture ordeal

TEH TAIMS : Former cellmate of Ayatollah Khamenei tells of his six-year torture ordeal

An Iranian dissident tells Martin Fletcher of his friendship with the
Ayatollah who is now crushing all opposition

Martin Fletcher

August 10 2010

Houshang Asadi jokes that he is the only man in the world to have seen Ayatollah Khamenei’s private parts. Having spent three months sharing a tiny prison cell with the man who is now Iran’s Supreme Leader, he is also one of the very few who has witnessed every stage of his transformation from kind, poetry-loving cleric to savage dictator. “How sad that a tortured prisoner now has hundreds of torturers working for him,” Mr Asadi told The Times in an interview. If they met now, he said, he would remind Ayatollah Khamenei of their emotional embrace when their brief cohabitation ended a few years before Iran’s 1979 Revolution, and of his cellmate’s parting promise: “Under an Islamic government, not a single tear will be shed by the innocent.” Mr Asadi, 60, an Iranian journalist exiled in Paris, found himself sharing a cell with Iran’s future leader when he was imprisoned by the Shah for his communist affiliations in 1974. In a new book, Letters to my Torturer, Mr Asadi writes with great affection of his thin, bearded cellmate. He recalls his “pleasant smile” and “sweet laugh”, his intense spirituality and their daily “strolls” around the cell, when the pious cleric and young atheist would talk of family and discuss a shared passion for literature for hours on end. Mr Asadi, a non-smoker, gave the future Ayatollah his daily ration of one cigarette, and he would divide it into three and smoke each part with relish. Ali Khamenei nicknamed the guards “Dog Fart Number One” and “Dog Fart Number Two”. He loved jokes, but not lewd ones – and he refused to take his pants off in the shower, saying it was a sin for a man to see another’s genitalia. “Never again was I to become so attached to someone in such a short time or to become as close to someone else,” he wrote. The two remained friends even as Ali Khamenei rose to prominence after the revolution. Mr Asadi would take him books, particularly novels by western writers like Steinbeck and Sartre that he did not know. Ali Khamenei tried to persuade him to help to set up an Islamic newspaper. Then, in 1983, the Islamic regime – with Ali Khamenei now its president – turned on the communists who had helped them to depose the Shah and threw hundreds into prison. Mr Asadi was incarcerated in Moshtarak prison, Tehran, for six years, two in solitary confinement. The soles of his feet were lashed until they were raw. He was hung upside down from the ceiling, or by his arms, which were handcuffed behind his back. He was made to eat his own excrement, and that of other prisoners. He was beaten until he lost most of his teeth. He was blindfolded whenever he left his cell, lived
in constant fear of death, and denied any contact with the outside world. He “confessed” to spying for Britain, Russia and Savak, the Shah’s secret police, but it made no difference. Three times he attempted suicide. Compared to the torturers of Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic regime, those of the Shah were “angelic”, said Mr Asadi, whose body and mind are still scarred. He spent hours in tears and suffered a heart attack when he had to relive his ordeal for the book. In the end, it may have been Ayatollah Khamenei who saved him. One of the many charges against Mr Asadi was that he had infiltrated the President’s office for the communists. In desperation, his wife wrote to the Ayatollah, who acknowledged that he had known of Mr Asadi’s political beliefs. For whatever reason, Mr Asadi was spared death; of more than 5,000 political prisoners locked up in the mid-1980s, he was one of barely 800 who survived. Mr Asadi and his wife fled to Paris in 2003 and helped to create Rooz Online, a website dedicated to exposing what is happening inside Iran. He admits that before last year’s stolen presidential election, and the savage repression that followed, he retained a lingering affection for Ayatollah Khamenei. Now he supports those who chant: “Death to the dictator”. Asked what changed his former friend, he replies: “Power – and the Talebanisation of the regime.” He says the Supreme Leader genuinely believes he is God’s representative on Earth, where Islam is battling the West for world domination. To achieve that end, he believes any means are justified. Mr Asadi believes that the torture Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime inflicts on political prisoners is worse even than that which he suffered. Rape is now commonplace, and while his own tormentors kept their work secret, today’s are content for news of their barbarity to spread so that the population lives in terror. “It really saddens me that someone who was essentially a freedom fighter has essentially become a torturer,” he says.

An Iranian dissident tells Martin Fletcher of his friendship with the Ayatollah who is now crushing all opposition

Martin Fletcher
August 10 2010
Houshang Asadi jokes that he is the only man in the world to have seen Ayatollah Khamenei’s private parts. Having spent three months sharing a tiny prison cell with the man who is now Iran’s Supreme Leader, he is also one of the very few who has witnessed every stage of his transformation from kind, poetry-loving cleric to savage dictator. “How sad that a tortured prisoner now has hundreds of torturers working for him,” Mr Asadi told The Times in an interview. If they met now, he said, he would remind Ayatollah Khamenei of their emotional embrace when their brief cohabitation ended a few years before Iran’s 1979 Revolution, and of his cellmate’s parting promise: “Under an Islamic government, not a single tear will be shed by the innocent.” Mr Asadi, 60, an Iranian journalist exiled in Paris, found himself sharing a cell with Iran’s future leader when he was imprisoned by the Shah for his communist affiliations in 1974. In a new book, Letters to my Torturer, Mr Asadi writes with great affection of his thin, bearded cellmate. He recalls his “pleasant smile” and “sweet laugh”, his intense spirituality and their daily “strolls” around the cell, when the pious cleric and young atheist would talk of family and discuss a shared passion for literature for hours on end. Mr Asadi, a non-smoker, gave the future Ayatollah his daily ration of one cigarette, and he would divide it into three and smoke each part with relish. Ali Khamenei nicknamed the guards “Dog Fart Number One” and “Dog Fart Number Two”. He loved jokes, but not lewd ones – and he refused to take his pants off in the shower, saying it was a sin for a man to see another’s genitalia. “Never again was I to become so attached to someone in such a short time or to become as close to someone else,” he wrote. The two remained friends even as Ali Khamenei rose to prominence after the revolution. Mr Asadi would take him books, particularly novels by western writers like Steinbeck and Sartre that he did not know. Ali Khamenei tried to persuade him to help to set up an Islamic newspaper. Then, in 1983, the Islamic regime – with Ali Khamenei now its president – turned on the communists who had helped them to depose the Shah and threw hundreds into prison. Mr Asadi was incarcerated in Moshtarak prison, Tehran, for six years, two in solitary confinement. The soles of his feet were lashed until they were raw. He was hung upside down from the ceiling, or by his arms, which were handcuffed behind his back. He was made to eat his own excrement, and that of other prisoners. He was beaten until he lost most of his teeth. He was blindfolded whenever he left his cell, livedin constant fear of death, and denied any contact with the outside world. He “confessed” to spying for Britain, Russia and Savak, the Shah’s secret police, but it made no difference. Three times he attempted suicide. Compared to the torturers of Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic regime, those of the Shah were “angelic”, said Mr Asadi, whose body and mind are still scarred. He spent hours in tears and suffered a heart attack when he had to relive his ordeal for the book. In the end, it may have been Ayatollah Khamenei who saved him. One of the many charges against Mr Asadi was that he had infiltrated the President’s office for the communists. In desperation, his wife wrote to the Ayatollah, who acknowledged that he had known of Mr Asadi’s political beliefs. For whatever reason, Mr Asadi was spared death; of more than 5,000 political prisoners locked up in the mid-1980s, he was one of barely 800 who survived. Mr Asadi and his wife fled to Paris in 2003 and helped to create Rooz Online, a website dedicated to exposing what is happening inside Iran. He admits that before last year’s stolen presidential election, and the savage repression that followed, he retained a lingering affection for Ayatollah Khamenei. Now he supports those who chant: “Death to the dictator”. Asked what changed his former friend, he replies: “Power – and the Talebanisation of the regime.” He says the Supreme Leader genuinely believes he is God’s representative on Earth, where Islam is battling the West for world domination. To achieve that end, he believes any means are justified. Mr Asadi believes that the torture Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime inflicts on political prisoners is worse even than that which he suffered. Rape is now commonplace, and while his own tormentors kept their work secret, today’s are content for news of their barbarity to spread so that the population lives in terror. “It really saddens me that someone who was essentially a freedom fighter has essentially become a torturer,” he says.

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