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Iran, Prison and Torture: One Family's Story

Maziar Bahari discusses 'Then They Came for Me'

In New York on June 7, 2011, Maziar Bahari spoke of his 118-day imprisonment and the circumstances that led up to it. (3 min., 32 sec.)

In New York on June 7, 2011, Maziar Bahari spoke of his 118-day imprisonment and the circumstances that led up to it. (3 min., 32 sec.)

Maziar Bahari discusses 'Then They Came for Me'

NEW YORK, June 7, 2011 — "I thought that I would be arrested for a week and released, but days became weeks and weeks became months," said Maziar Bahari in an Asia Society discussion about his powerful memoir, Then They Came for Me. During the program Bahari told of becoming the third member of his family in 50 years to be imprisoned by an Iranian regime.

"The fact that I was in confinement for 107 days was the worst torture. ... I wanted to go to interrogation room to be beaten to get some interaction," said Bahari, speaking of the isolation he faced during his imprisonment.

To cope with solitary confinement Bahari drew strength from the memories and advice of his father and sister. Bahari’s father had been imprisoned and brutally tortured for four years under the Shah during the 1950s and his sister for six years under Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s, but neither ever confessed or implicated others. Hearing their voices in his head, he also managed to resist the urge to talk.

Bahari was joined by author Jon Meacham, Bahari's former editor when he worked at Newsweek. Meacham, with Bahari's then-pregnant wife, led a campaign for Bahari’s release that eventually involved U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Reported by Inhae Song

Then They Came for Me is also available at AsiaStore.org