Iran orders death penalty for 'kidnapped' German national

AFP , Tuesday 21 Feb 2023

An Iranian court on Tuesday sentenced to death on terror charges an Iranian-German national who supporters say was abducted in the Gulf and forcibly returned to Iran for a show trial.

Jamshid Sharmahd, who is accused by the Iranian government of being a leader of the US-based  Tondar
Jamshid Sharmahd, who is accused by the Iranian government of being a leader of the US-based Tondar terrorist group behind a deadly attack in Iran in 2008, attends the first hearing of his trial in Tehran. AFP


The Tehran Revolutionary Court convicted Jamshid Sharmahd in connection with the deadly bombing of a mosque in 2008, the judiciary's Mizan Online news agency reported.

Iranian authorities announced in August 2020 that Sharmahd, 67, who is also a German national and a US resident, was arrested in what they described as a "complex operation" without specifying how, where or when he was seized.

His family say that he was abducted by the Iranian security services while in transit in Dubai and then brought under duress to Iran.

"They kidnapped Jamshid Sharmahd and now they've sentenced him to death after a sham trial," said the head of the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) group Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam.

German opposition MP and foreign affairs committee member Norbert Roettgen tweeted that "he was kidnapped by the regime in Iran and now sentenced to death also to put pressure on Germany".

"The government must now make it unmistakably clear that they do not accept this arbitrary judgement and are fighting for the life," he wrote on Twitter.

'Scapegoating my dad'

Sharmahd is accused by Iran of leading the Tondar group which aims to topple the Islamic republic and is outlawed as a terrorist organisation by Iran.

Mizan said Sharmahd planned to commit 23 "terrorist" acts, of which he succeeded in five, including the bombing of a mosque in the southern city of Shiraz on April 12, 2008, which killed 14 people and wounded 300 others.

Prosecutors had also accused Sharmahd of having established contact with "FBI and CIA officers" and of having "attempted to contact Israeli Mossad agents".

In 2009, Iran convicted and hanged three men for the Shiraz bombing, claiming they had links to the monarchist group and had taken their orders from "an Iranian CIA agent" based in the US in an attempt to assassinate a senior official in Iran.

Sharmahd's family have ridiculed the charges.

"All of the charges are fabricated charges. They are scapegoating my dad who is innocent," his daughter Gazelle told AFP when his trial got underway last year.

The family says Sharmahd, a software designer, became involved with Tondar, also known as Kingdom Assembly of Iran and designed their website, the family says.

Mizan said Iran-born Sharmahd could appeal against his death sentence before the supreme court.

The sentence was announced a day after the European Union imposed fresh sanctions on Iran for its response to protests triggered by the mid-September death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd arrested for an alleged breach of the country's strict dress code for women.

The measures, that targeted 32 individuals and two entities, are the fifth package of sanctions imposed by the bloc on Iran in the past several months.

Activists accuse Iran of abducting regime opponents in a bid to put them on trial in Iran on charges that could see them sentenced to death.

The family fears he risks a similar fate to France-based Ruhollah Zam, who was executed in December 2020 after leaving Paris in October 2020 for Iraq, where supporters say he was detained by Iran.

"Let's not let another person like Ruhollah Zam become a victim of kidnapping and the rope of the Islamic republic," said the United for Zam group set up to remember him.

Sharmahd is one of two dozen foreign nationals held by Iran who activists and now Western governments describe as "hostages" held to extract concessions from the West.

Another foreign national at risk of being hanged is Swedish-Iranian dual national Ahmadreza Djalali who has been held since 2016 and in 2017 was sentenced to death on espionage charges his family vehemently denies.

In December, the judiciary announced Iranian-Swedish dissident Habib Chaab, who disappeared during a visit to Turkey in October 2020, had been sentenced to death on terror charges.

In mid-January, it executed Iranian-British dual national Alireza Akbari, a former Iranian official, after convicting him of spying.

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