Iran's Famous Activist Ahmad Batebi Talks About His Harrowing Escape From the Regime
“I wish each and every Iranian could travel abroad, come to the U.S. or go to Europe, for just one week, and feel, smell, and breathe freedom, human dignity, and realize the value of their lives.”
Voice of America Interview
Washington DC, USA
June 30, 2008
Courageous Iranian student activist Ahmad Betebi who was sentenced to death and who was severely tortured for years in the notorious Evin Prison in Iran, has arrived safely in the United States!
During a break from prison, Batebi fled Iran traveling through a free Iraq to Austria and finally arriving in Washington DC.
Ahmad Batebi arrived in the United States last month after years of torture and imprisonment. Broke, weak and afraid, Batebi described his flight from Iran through a free Iraq to Rooz Online. He tells of the Iranian agents who followed him during his escape. It is an unimagineable story of heartache and courage.
Nooshabeh Amiri at Rooz Online has this amazing story on how Iran’s most famous human rights activist excaped to America.
Here are a few segments:
Ahmad Batebi: On the first day of the new year (March 21st) I was on my way from Tehran to Karaj when they called. They said they wanted to see me at a designated place. I thought they just wanted to talk about the details of my trip. So I went to the spot carrying my usual backpack, which included a camera and some documents. The operation began right from then. The next command I heard was:” Get in.”
Nooshabeh Amiri: You mean right off a city street?
Ahmad Batebi: Yes. When I told them that I did not have anything on me, they said it was ok. So we got into a car and drove off.
Nooshabeh Amiri: To where?
Ahmad Batebi: I did not know. They drove me from one town to the next. On unusual roads and ways. We zigzaged until we arrived at the border. I cannot reveal the name of the border town.
Nooshabeh Amiri: How did you feel when they told you that you were actually leaving the country?
Ahmad Batebi: I felt extremely sad. It was all too sudden and I was not prepared. My thoughts went to my family, friends, the country that I love so much. And in addition to these I had the guarantee that I had left behind with the authorities. Not seeing my family members, the issue of money. Yet, I could not stop the intense energy and operation that had already started…
Nooshabeh Amiri: Did they actually know who you were?
Ahmad Batebi: No. They used a pseudonym for me. They had told me in their emails much earlier what my name would be and called me that.
Nooshabeh Amiri: So they did not know that they were taking Ahmad Batebi out of the country?
Ahmad Batebi: No, they were simply carrying out the mission that had been assigned to them…
Ahmad Batebi: yes. First I was threatened by the (Iranian) military while in Iraq, which is why the DKPI had to change the place I was staying at repeatedly.
Nooshabeh Amiri: What military threat?
Ahmad Batebi: They had sent a terrorist group to kill a number of people. The incident was reported in some of the local newspapers as well.
Nooshabeh Amiri: What happened then?
Ahmad Batebi: I had been trying to give them the impression that I was in Turkey, but the Ministry of Intelligence (Iran’s) had identified my personal cellphone number – which I thought only the UN had – and called me while I was in Iraq. They told me that I had to return to Iran and asked me to present myself to the Iranian consul, adding that they would issue me a passport and provide the necessary monetary needs so you can go anywhere you desire. I recorded their promises and conversation.
Nooshabeh Amiri: How did you feel when you heard their voice?
Ahmad Batebi: I was surprised because I thought nobody had my telephone number. Of course I did know that they had a lot of resources in their intelligence activities. Anyway, after they called, members of the DKPI wrote a letter to the UN telling them that they had received information that put my life at risk, and that they had to take me out of Iraq to Sweden as soon as possible. But before anything was done, Lili Mazaheri obtained an entry US visa for me and I went to Austria on my way to the US…
Ahmad Batebi: When I was getting ready to board a plane, I saw a few individuals who looked like Iranian agents who checked me out. They had beards and looked aggressive. I am not sure whether they had recognized me or not, but the way they looked instilled a doubt as to whether I should get on the plane or not. A police officer at the airport noticed my hesitation and asked me the reason. I told him about the suspicious characters and he went to them and asked them for their passports. I took advantage of the moment and boarded the plane.
Nooshabeh Amiri: A plane that was flying to America?
Ahmad Batebi: Yes, America. I have filmed everything from the moment I left Iran with my mobile (cellphone). Everything from Tehran, crossing the border, boarding a train, the UN office. I have both sound and video recordings. I have recorded the conversations of the Iranian intelligence agents who had called from Iran while I was in Iraq. Soon human rights activists will publish the sound and vide recordings that I have made and the documents regarding my UN work and my presence in this country.
We all look forward to the film, Mr. Betebi.
Silent no more
NINE years ago, Ahmad Batebi appeared on the cover of The Economist. This photo made Batebi famous. It also made him a target of the regime.
The Economist follows up on their previous story with a Batebi interview this week.
Previously on Ahmed Batebi:
Brutal Death of Iranian Activist Akbar Mohammadi Revealed
Iranian Political Activist Ahmad Batebi Re-Arrested in Tehran
Iranian Political Activist Batebi Gets Nine More Years at Evin Prison
Noted Iranian Activist, Ahmad Batebi, in Serious Condition
Harvard Students Will Protest Khatami for Release of Ahmed Batebi
Noted Iranian Activist Under Extreme Torture
Today on Iranian “Student’s Day” Remember Ward 209 Evin Prison
Iranian Activist Ahmad Batebi Suffers Stroke in Evin Prison
Iranian Student Activist Ahmad Batebi Suffers Second Stroke
BREAKING: Iran’s Most Famous Political Dissident Escapes to United States!