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Mohsen Sazegara is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute where he will focus on the prospects for political change in Iran and the role of the international community in the movement for democracy in Iran.
In the late 1970s, as an undergraduate at Sharif University of Technology in Iran and Illinois Institute of Technology, Mr. Sazegara was a leader in the Iranian student movement against the shah. During the 1979 revolution, he returned with Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran, where he served as a founder of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and as managing director of the National Radio of Iran (1979-1981). During the 1980s, he served as political deputy in the prime minister’s office, deputy minister of heavy industries, chairman of the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran, and vice minister of planning and budget.
Mr. Sazegara became disillusioned with the revolutionary government and left it in 1989. He later served as publisher of several reformist newspapers closed by regime hardliners, including Jamee, Toos, and Golestan-e-Iran. He was also managing director of Iran’s press cooperative company, whose membership included more than 450 Iranian journal and newspaper publishers. He earned his master’s degree in history at Iran’s Shahid Beheshti University, and in 1996 completed his doctoral thesis at the University of London on religious intellectuals and the Islamic revolution.
When his candidacy for president was rejected by the Guardian Council in 2001, he initiated a campaign for a referendum on replacing the Iranian constitution. Mr. Sazegara was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence in 2003. While in jail, he went on two lengthy hunger strikes that caused deterioration in his health; he was permitted to go to London for medical treatment in 2004. Four months ago, Mr. Sazegara helped launch an internet petition for a referendum on the Iranian constitution that has so far garnered the support of more than 35,000 signatories as well as 300 political and cultural activists in Iran and abroad.