Anoosheh Ashoori: The day I was arrested in Iran

The released British-Iranian citizen wrote 3,000 pages of diary entries during his near five-year captivity

This British-Iranian dual citizen was detained in Iran for nearly five years

This British-Iranian dual citizen was detained in Iran for nearly five years
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I left the apartment for Tayrish Market, taking my suitcase to have its zip repaired. I walked down the hill and as soon as I arrived at the bottom of the street, a white car pulled over to the side, blocking my way.

Four heavily built men got out and surrounded me. Two of them held my arms, the third one grabbed the suitcase and the fourth one stood in front of me and said: “Are you Mr A. A?”

I said yes, and noticed the third man opened the suitcase, looked inside it and after he saw that it was empty, he opened the boot of the car and placed it inside. I was then pushed into the car, on the back seat.

Two of them sat, each on one side, they shut the doors and the car quickly took off. The car windows were tinted so nothing could be seen from the outside. I was in a state of shock and extremely horrified. My mind had stopped functioning properly. I could just pull myself together enough to say “who are you and what is happening?”

The man next to the driver turned around and handed a letter-like piece of paper with a text printed on it and said: “Read it.” It was an arrest warrant.

A few minutes later, the man sitting on my right handed me a blindfold and told me to put it on.

After the car came to a halt, I was told to raise my head and I was helped outside the car. Then I was held by my arm and was taken towards the building’s entrance.

We entered a hall with Persian carpets covering the floor. I could only see my feet through the gap under my blindfold.

I was guided towards a chair and was told to sit down. At this time, a man told me that I could now remove my blindfold.

About two metres away there were three chairs in a row facing me. One of the chairs was occupied by a bearded man in his early 30s with a set of rosary in his hand, quietly staring at me, with a serious expression on his face.

After waiting for about half an hour, two men walked in and sat on the two empty chairs. One of them said “Salam”, to which I replied.

Then with a cold smile on his face, he stared at me for about one or two minutes.

Then he broke the silence and said: “We are here to hear you talk.”

I asked: “What about?”

He said: “You can start by talking about your life and people you have met or contacted since, say, 2006.”

An extract from the first pages of diary entries by Anoosheh Ashoori following his arrest in August 2017 in Iran

Updated: April 01, 2022, 8:09 AM