Farnaz Fassihi of the Wall Street Journal today provides “before and after” pictures of Muhammad Ali Abtahi that seem to reveal how much weight Abtahi has lost in prison. Abtahi holds the rank of Khojat ul Islam, second only to the rank of Ayatullah, and was a Vice President of Iran under former President of Iran Mohammad Khatami. Since being out of office Abtahi himself has been a familiar figure, as he blogged about affairs in Iran. As he is well connected his stories of conversations among the religious elite in Iran provide a glimpse of what that secluded world is like.
Owing to his involvement in the demonstrations against the regime he has been detained in an Iranian prison for nearly two months. He is now the poster boy for the regime’s claim that the election on June 12 was not rigged. His statement in court claims that the ring leaders of the opposition had been planning their activities for years Of course the regime’s claim that this is Abtahi’s personal statement is spurious. Who would suppose that after many weeks in prison and a loss of about a fifth of his weight Abtahi would come to this view on his own? Yes, he has lost more than 40 pounds. He is short and weighed at least 200 pounds when he visited us here in St Louis a couple years ago (a guest of Covenant Seminary, during which time he paid a visit to Washington University), so a loss of that much weight in so few days comes to about two or three pounds a day for over 20 days. Whatever they are doing to him includes starvation. Have a look at Fassihi’s photos and his report: