A group of hackers downloaded a footage taken inside Evin, Iran's prison, dubbed as a palace of tortures that reveal outright violation of human rights.
The guard in a control room at Iran’s notorious Evin prison springs to attention as one by one, monitors in front of him suddenly blink off and display something very different from the surveillance footage he had been watching.
“Cyberattack,” the monitors flash. Other guards gather around, holding up their mobile phones and filming, or making urgent calls. ”General protest until the freedom of political prisoners” reads another line on the screens.
The alleged hackers said the release of the footage was an effort to show the grim conditions at the prison, known for holding political prisoners and those with ties abroad who are often used as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.
"We want the world to hear our voice for freedom"
In one part of the footage, a man smashes a bathroom mirror to try to cut open his arm. Prisoners — and even guards — beat each other in scenes captured by surveillance cameras. Inmates sleeping in single rooms with bunk beds stacked three high against the walls, wrapping themselves in blankets to stay warm.
We want the world to hear our voice for freedom of all political prisoners, read a message from the online account to the media in Dubai.
Four former prisoners at Evin, as well as an Iranian human rights activist abroad, have told the AP that the videos resemble areas from the facility in northern Tehran. Some of the scenes also matched photographs of the facility previously taken by journalists, as well as images of the prison as seen in satellite photos accessed by the AP.
Though there is no sound in the videos, they speak to the grim world faced by prisoners at the facility. One sequence shows what appears to be an emaciated man dumped from a car in the parking lot, then dragged through the prison. Another shows a cleric walking down the stairs and passing by the man, without stopping.
Evin prison a site of abuses of prisoners
Guards in another video are seen beating a man in a prisoner’s uniform. One guard sucker-punches a prisoner in a holding cell. Guards also fight among themselves, as do the prisoners. Many are crammed into single-room cells. No one wears a facemask.
Iran, long sanctioned by the West, faces difficulties in getting up-to-date hardware and software, often relying on Chinese-manufactured electronics or older systems. The control room system seen in the video, for instance, appeared to be running Windows 7, for which Microsoft no longer provides patches. That would make it easier for a potential hacker to target. Pirated versions of Windows and other software are common across Iran.
Reports by U.N. Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman repeatedly named Evin prison as a site of abuses of prisoners.