According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the Associated Press reported on Monday, August 23 that they had received surveillance footage from anonymous hackers of Evin Prison, and a message that explained why the leak had occurred.

The NCRI said, “According to the communications received by the AP, the hackers copied data that amounts to hundreds of gigabytes and sat on much of it for months before releasing large quantities to the media in the wake of Ebrahim Raisi’s swearing-in as the regime’s new president earlier this month.”

The purpose of the footage leak is believed to be an effort to bring attention to the conditions that political prisoners are facing in Iran’s prisons. The fact that the leak has coincided with the recent inauguration of Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s new president relates to the notion that the regime’s human rights abuses would worsen under his administration, considering his history and involvement in the 1988 massacre.

The NCRI said, “In keeping with his reputation as “henchman of 1988,” Raisi has long been a leading proponent of capital punishment, and as such, he oversaw an increased implementation of death sentences during the period in which he was judiciary chief, compared to an equivalent period in previous years.”

Over the past 2 years, Iran has remained the nation with the largest rate of executions per capita. 2019 saw 281 prisoners hanged, while numbers reached at least 251 in 2020.

According to official figures, at least 220 prisoners in Iranian prisons have been executed to date this year alone. Over 60 of those executions have taken place in the past two months, following the presidential election in June.

The NCRI said, “The acceleration shows that Raisi’s influence over the repressive climate of the regime would only increase after his transition from the leadership of the judiciary to the leadership of the executive branch.”

The leaked footage from Evin Prison highlights just how bad the conditions are for the prisoners serving their sentences. Images of prisoners crammed into individual cells with no masks or other protective equipment were shared by the Associated Press.

The NCRI said, “Images of prisoners huddling under thin blankets underscore the fact that the cold and unhygienic conditions of Evin and similar facilities pose a risk to inmates’ health under normal conditions, let alone during a global pandemic.”

Iran Human Rights Monitor reported last week that Khaled Pirzadeh, a political prisoner in Sheiban Prison in the city of Ahvaz tested positive for Covid-19 after showing symptoms and was kept in close contact with other prisoners for several days before being moved to quarantine. This is just one example of how the pandemic is being handled behind bars.

The NCRI said, “Forthcoming releases from the Evin Prison hack will most likely reveal conditions both before and during the pandemic, and while they may show that beatings, neglect, and other forms of mistreatment have escalated, they certainly show that human rights abuses are perennial features of Iranian prisons, especially in political wards.”