I started hunger strike…That was first time I was arrested after-- by minister of intelligence of Iran. After five days, I was released. But after that-- after three month, I was arrested again, this time by its parallel successor, vis-- which was under control of the revolutionary guard. This time I was in prison for 114 days. Again I started hunger strike. I was on hunger strike for totally 79 days. First, I said that immediately I should be released, "I am just an opposition prisoner of conscience. So, according to the constitution, you don't have any right to arrest me." But they don't listen to you any way. Second, my second demand was everybody who was arrested with me, including my son, totally about 800 students, university students, were arrested on 2003, so my second demand was to release all the students who were arrested.
And third demand was that Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader, should apologize to the nation of Iran because of the judicial power of Iran, which is appointed by him. I knew that the third demand-- was-- of course, he-- he doesn't go for that. But I just wanted to launch the idea.
My wife knew about my demands, so when they arrested me she started to announce these demands every of them in five days. Every five days, she announced them, "This is his first demand, second demand and third demand."
At last, I was released because of several things. First the death of Zahra Kazemi the Canadian Iranian journalist. I didn't know while I was in jail but it was effective because she was killed in prison and there was a big scandal in Iran and in the world. Second, because of the pressure of some politicians, reformists and student groups.
And third, I think that I was very close to dieing you know, especially after the second hunger strike. After 56 days they promised me that, "Okay, you are free and everybody's free now. And so, break your hunger strike." I believed when Mr. Mortazavi, the general prosecutor of Tehran told me.
But after 20 days I found out that he lied and they don't want to release me. So, I started the second hunger strike, which took 23 days. You know, because of that I have heart problem, I already had heart surgery. And I stopped all my medicines.
Anyway-- totally they decided to release me by $600,000 bail. And when I was released I was hospitalized. My eye doctor and my heart doctor told me that, "You need surgery. And it would be better if you go out of Iran for medical treatment." So, I called my interrogator, I had his cell phone number, and told him that this is what my doctors have told me. "You have bail from me. And if I were you, you let me to go out because of my medical treatments. And if I come back again, I will be at your hands. And if I don't come back here, you will be lucky because one of the dissidents is outside Iran."
He told me that this is more than my authority, I should check with top officials, that we believe that they check with the-- the leader. It took about 40-- 42 days. Then he called me after 42 days-- he called me and said that, "Okay, we agree that you can go out of Iran so we will send you back your passport," because when they arrest you, they take everything. Your passport. Your bills. Your books. Everything. Your tapes, your computer, first.
And on January 2004, I left Iran. I went to England for eye surgery. I had two surgeries on my right eye. And it took about one year. But after that, for my heart treatments, everybody, recommended me that it's a good idea if I go to the United States.
So I had an invitation from Washington Institute for Near East Policy. And because that they had very good insurance for medical treatments, I accepted that s—three month fellowship. And I came to Washington, D.C. And I was hospitalized in Washington Hospital. But while I was in the United States after that three month, which was extended to more three month, totally six month-- I wanted to go back to Iran. I made a mistake on telephone. I talked to my mother and tell my friends that, "Okay, everything is finished and I'm on the way back."
In less than one week, they sentenced me to six years jail in absentia. Again, I announced that I don't care. I will come back. And if you arrest me, again I'll go on hunger strike. That was after Mr. Ahmadinejad first term election. Many of my friends recommended me that it would be better if I stay for a while because this time if they grab me, they will kill me.