Iran investigates Evin prison guards after abuse video leak

Iranian prosecutors have opened criminal cases against six guards at Tehran’s Evin prison after footage showing widespread abuse of detainees at the facility leaked out last week.

The judiciary said “some” prison guards were in detention after a three-day investigation into mistreatment and grim conditions at Evin. Zabihollah Khodaeian, a judiciary spokesperson, said authorities had also summoned two guards and punished others. He did not elaborate on the penalties or identifying the suspects.

Last week the Associated Press published parts of the videos and a report about the abuse at the facility in northern Tehran, long known for holding political prisoners and those with ties to the west whom Iran uses as bargaining chips in international negotiations. An online account purportedly belonging to a self-described hacker group shared footage of an incident and parts of other surveillance video it had seized.

“The scenes shown in the published films were against the law and it is not justifiable under any circumstances,” said Khodaeian, noting that the leaked clips had been selected and edited from different scenes over the course of years.

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 are seen sleeping in single rooms with bunk beds stacked three high against the walls, wrapping themselves in blankets to stay warm.

Iran’s judiciary ordered an investigation last week after the head of the prison system acknowledged the videos were real. He expressed contrition and said he took responsibility for the “unacceptable behaviours”.