Leaked footage shows grim conditions in Iran's Evin prison

Inside the hell-hole jail where Iran cages its political prisoners: Leaked footage shows beatings and fights amongst GUARDS at Tehran’s Evin Prison where British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was held

  • Footage of inside of prison in Tehran has been leaked following a cyberattack
  • Video shows guards punching, kicking and dragging inmates along the floor 
  • Prison infamously been used to hold British-Iranians on disputed spy charges
  • Charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was held at Elvin until November 2020

Shocking video showing the appalling conditions at Iran’s infamous Evin prison has been leaked following a cyberattack. 

Footage from inside prison – where British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was once held – shows guards punching, kicking and dragging inmates along the floor against their will.

In another shocking scene, a cleric is seen stepping over an emaciated inmate, seemingly unaware of his plight.

The prison, in Iran’s capital Tehran, has infamously been used to hold the British-Iranian prisoners on disputed spying charges.

Charity worker Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe 43, was held at Evin until November last year when she was released to be put on house arrest over charges of undermining the Iranian state – charges she disputes.  

British-Iranian businessman Anoosheh Ashoori, who was sentenced in 2019 to 12 years in prison over disputed claims he was spying for Israel, is also held at the prison.

The release of the footage comes after the prison was targeted by hackers. Video shows guards springing to attention after seeing ‘cyberattack’ pop up on their monitors.  

Shocking video showing the appalling conditions at Iran’s infamous Evin prison has been leaked following a cyberattack. Pictured: A guard attacks a prisoner at Elvin 

Footage from inside prison – where British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was once held – shows guards punching, kicking and dragging inmates along the floor against their will 

The prison (pictured), in Iran’s capital Tehran, has infamously been used to hold the British-Iranian prisoners on disputed spying charges

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.

An online account, purportedly by an entity describing itself as a group of hackers, shared footage of the incident, as well as parts of other surveillance video it seized, with The Associated Press. 

The alleged hackers said the release of the footage was an effort to show the grim conditions at the prison.

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 AP in Dubai.

Iran, which has faced criticism from the United Nations special rapporteur over its prison conditions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to its U.N. mission in New York. 

Iranian state media in the country have not acknowledged the incident at Evin.

However, several embarrassing hacking incidents have struck Iran amid ongoing tensions over its accelerated nuclear program and as talks with the West over reviving the atomic accord between Tehran and world powers remain on hold.

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. 

Much of the footage bears timestamps from 2020 and this year. Several videos without the stamp show guards wearing facemasks, signaling they came amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In this undated frame grab taken from video shared with The Associated Press by a self-identified hacker group called ‘The Justice of Ali,’ guards drag an emaciated prisoner, at Evin prison in Tehran, Iran. 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. (The Justice of Ali via AP)


British-Iranian businessman Anoosheh Ashoori (pictured left) , who was sentenced in 2019 to 12 years in prison over disputed claims he was spying for Israel, is also kept at the prison. Charity worker Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured right) 43, was held at Evin until November last year when she was released to be put on house arrest over charges of undermining the Iranian state – charges she disputes

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.

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.

The account that shared the videos with the AP calls itself ‘The Justice of Ali,’ a reference to the Prophet Muhammad´s son-in-law who is revered by Shiites. It also mocks Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

It claimed to have ‘hundreds’ of gigabytes of data from what it described as a hack conducted several months ago. It did not answer questions about who was involved in the leak.

The account linked the timing of its leak to the recent election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line acolyte of Khamenei involved in the execution of thousands in 1988 at the end of the Iran-Iraq War.

‘The Evin prison is a stain on Raisi´s black turban and white beard,’ the message on the screens in the prison control room also read.

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. 

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. Pictured: A guard stands in disbelief as the prison’s computer systems are hacked 

That would make it easier for a potential hacker to target. Pirated versions of Windows and other software are common across Iran.

In recent months, Iran’s railroad system was targeted by an apparent cyberattack. 

Meanwhile the most-famous cyberattack – the Stuxnet virus that destroyed Iranian centrifuges at the height of Western fears over Tehran’s program – is widely suspected to have been an American and Israeli creation.

Evin prison was built in 1971 under Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It housed political prisoners then and later, after the 1979 Islamic Revolution swept the shah from power. 

Reports by U.N. Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman repeatedly named Evin prison as a site of abuses of prisoners. 

Rehman warned in January that Iran’s entire prison system faced ‘long-standing overcrowding and hygiene deficiencies’ and ‘insurmountable obstacles for responding to COVID-19.’

‘Prisoners of conscience and political prisoners have contracted COVID-19 or experienced symptoms, with many denied testing or treatment or suffering unnecessary delays in receiving test results and treatment,’ he wrote. 

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