LONDON student Ana Diamond shared details of the horrific psychological torture she was subjected to when imprisoned in a Tehran prison as Iran’s Government sought to prosecute her for espionage when she was 21.
By Aurora Bosotti
Source: The Express
London student admitted she still suffers from “nightmares” as she relieves her atrocious experience in Tehran’s Evin Prison after she was arrested on claims of espionage. The Iranian-born student, who moved to Finland aged four before moving to the UK and holds a double Iranian-Finnish passport, was stopped when she landed in Tehran when she was 21 and asked to turn in her laptop and computer. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) went on to put the girl under surveillance after finding pictures of Ana with now-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his predecessor David Cameron.
Speaking for the first time since her imprisonment and later return to the UK, Ana told Channel 4 News: “I was very active with Boris Johnson’s campaign and I had lots of photos with him and then I attended the Conservative Party conference and all these events.
“They told my dad they would be ok with us being MI6 spies as long as we work as double agents and what I thought was quite remarkable was that they would go as far as saying, ‘we have people all over the world so you are never really alone if you need you need a hand in a particular mission.’”
The young girl, now 24, lived under strict surveillance for over a year before she was taken to court to face the 52 charges the Iranian Government moved against her – three of which would have resulted in the death penalty.
After the cleric charged with her case went on a tirade because of Ana providing her answers in English – as the London student admitted she cannot write in Persian – she was brought to the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran where double national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is currently being held.
Asked whether the IRGC tortured her while under arrest, Ana said: “It depends on how you define torture. On occasions, they would be beating someone up, a female.
“I was told, ‘did you hear about the girl? It’s not a girl, it’s your mum.’ They said, ‘it’s your mum, she lied to us, she wasn’t really willing to tell us the truth.’”
Ana also admitted the psychological struggle she faced during confinement in prison had her feeling relieved when interrogated/
She continued: “It sounds crazy but I almost liked going to interrogations just to get myself out of solitary.
“I really want to emphasise how stressful and how devastating solitary is because that’s just you with your thoughts.”
Ana remained in isolation for over seven months before guards at Evin Prison took her from her cell and forced her onto a van, driving the handcuffed girl into the desert outside Tehran.
The tearful 24-year-old was out of the van, catching a glimpse of one of the armed guards from below the blindfold the IRGC had placed over her eyes. Ana said she felt a sudden push to “grab that gun” to attempt an escape but ultimately gave in.
She said: “You don’t want to beg because you are so hurt you don’t want to be like ‘no, please, don’t kill me.’
“Also, there was a level of stubbornness to me because I said, ‘I haven’t done this, I’m not going to confess, I’m not going to tell them what they want to hear because if I die, I want to die as someone who didn’t bend down to a false confession.’ If you did confess, they would put you on TV, they would use you and then they would kill you.”
Ana claimed the guard ultimately told her he “didn’t have time” to execute her and she was returned to Evin Prison. Her grandfather, an eminent cleric in Iran, succeeded in posting bail and had the girl taken to hospital, where she was diagnosed with a stress-induced heart condition.
Following her release, Ana hired a lawyer to have her charges overturned from the death penalty to a 10-year prison sentence. However, she persisted in declaring her innocence and sought the help of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
She continued: “I put on a chador, made a to-do list – basically of all the big political figures in Iran who had influence – but the first thing I did was go to the Supreme Leader’s office.
“I walked in, I was the only woman in the whole place and I said I wanted to see someone.”
She ultimately managed to find one employee who believed her and helped her return home: “The reason why he connected with me and he was interested in helping me was because his own son was studying at a quite renowned British institution.
“It was just funny to me because I said, ‘you know, all along, all these years, you say death to America, death to England and yet you have your children staying in the US and the UK.’”
Ana added: “After my return to the UK, I ended up in hospital for three months. I went through two heart operations, my cardiologist said it’s nothing to do with the hear – I’ve just been exposed to prolonged periods of stress and panic.
“And I had to deal with that before doing anything public. The last straw was when I heard that Nazanin had been taken to the psychiatric hospital and I thought would almost be selfish not to speak up.’”
British-Iranian dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Evin Prison since travelling to the country with her one-year-old daughter Gabriella for a family visit.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was returned to prison earlier this week after a brief stint in a Tehran psychiatric ward she described as “torture.” Her husband Daniel, who has been lobbying for her release over the past three years, said his wife had been “broken” by the experience and felt “relieved” to return to prison.