Assessments

The Pawns of Iran's Security Apparatus

Mar 1, 2017 | 09:30 GMT
Iran, the IRGC in particular, has detained numerous political prisoners

A rally outside the Iranian Embassy in London calls attention to dual British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in Iran in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison on a charge of trying to overthrow the government.

(CHRIS J. RATCLIFFE/Getty Images)

Iran's high-profile release of five imprisoned U.S. citizens in January 2016 marked a moment of detente between the United States and Iran, timed to coincide with Washington's suspension of wide-ranging economic sanctions. Over the past year, however, Iran has continued to arrest people with Western citizenship or residence, more than making up for those it released in January. Whereas Tehran ended 2015 with 11 known Western prisoners, that number was up to 16 by the end of 2016 -- and that's only the prisoners that the public knows about. Iran has long had a reputation for imprisoning political dissenters. Hundreds of journalists, activists and academics are in jail in Iran for various political offenses, raising concerns about Iran's domestic legal system and the propriety of political dissent. A smaller group of prisoners that hold either foreign passports or have foreign residency sheds light on how Iran's security apparatus is maintaining relevance...

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