Prisoner by Jason Rezaian review – 544 days in an Iranian prison

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A shocking tale of solitary confinement in Iran, told with deadpan humour. It all begins with avocados …

When Jason Rezaian launched “The Iranian Avocado Quest” on Kickstarter in 2010, he was hoping to get a bit of viral interest, maybe a few freelance features, and some laughs out of it. The foodie journalist, who, while he still lived in California, competed in the Marin County Guac-off (guidelines: “The only requirement is the presence of 10 avocados – the rest is your interpretation”), was shocked to find that his father’s homeland, Iran, was an avocado-free zone. The idea was to raise enough money to start a farm in the Islamic republic, or rather to have some fun trying and failing to do so.

The fact that this was interpreted as a CIA plot by Rezaian’s interrogators during his 544-day spell as a political prisoner speaks volumes: of the cultural cluelessness of his captors, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), even as they struggle to wage a culture war against US influence (“Why would people give other people they don’t know money to try to accomplish meaningless things?” asks one officer, who refuses to believe that Kickstarter is real); of the utter baselessness of the charges against the man who had by that time become the Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent; and of the tendency of all authoritarian systems to veer towards the absurd.

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Link : Prisoner by Jason Rezaian review – 544 days in an Iranian prison

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