Home News Protest Chants, a Riot and Gunshots: How a Prison Fire Unfolded in Iran

Protest Chants, a Riot and Gunshots: How a Prison Fire Unfolded in Iran

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Mohammad Khani, a social researcher, was shot in the waist area with live bullets and has since developed a life threatening infection. Yashar Tohidi, an aerospace engineering student, was shot in the thigh and has been hospitalized for extensive bleeding. The situations of both men, who were in prison on charges of acting against national security, were described by lawyers.

Hossein Ghashghaei, a writer serving a two-year sentence on charges of conspiring against national security, described a feeling of shock and anxiety among his cellmates in Ward 4 as they heard the commotion and gunshots, according to an account of his that was published on social media.

“In total shock we heard seven sounds of massive explosions that added to our confusion, our many questions and endless anxiety,” Mr. Ghashghaei wrote. “We were telling each other don’t get near the windows, you may get shot.”

Emad Sharghi, a dual national Iranian American businessman held on murky spying charges, was in Ward 8, adjacent to Ward 7, where the riots broke out. Around 8 p.m. he briefly called his sister, Neda, in Washington to say he was alive. Ms. Sharghi said she heard chaos and loud shouting in the background and what sounded like gunshots.

“I was imagining him trapped in his cell suffocating and burning to death from the fire,” Ms. Sharghi said, describing her emotions after seeing videos of Evin on fire hours after the call.

Mr. Sharghi remained in his cell at Ward 8, trapped in the chaos of bullets, smoke and flames for several hours, and was moved to another building around midnight when things had quieted down, according to his family.

Prison guards moved faster to remove Siamak Namazi, another Iranian American dual national being held on spying charges, from Ward 4, where clashes were reported including doors broken and tear gas fired. He was extracted along with a prominent politician who murdered his wife and two former officials serving terms for financial corruption, a senior judge and the brother of former President Hassan Rouhani.

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