Tuesday, February 27

German-Iranian man facing death sentence on terror charges mounts final defense | Germany

A German-Iranian political scientist – the victim of a kidnapping by the Iranian secret service – has mounted a last ditch defense against multiple charges of terrorism in a Tehran court.

Jamshid Sharmahd is expected to be sentenced later, possibly to death, after a government appointed lawyer has given his defence. His own lawyers have not been allowed to represent him, but Sharmahd insisted he was not guilty.

The German embassy had asked to attend the final day of the six-day trial – on Tuesday – but access was denied.

Sharmahhd’s daughter Gazelle said: “It should horrify every citizen who cares about human rights that a regime is breaking international law to kidnap foreign journalists, torture them and silence them through progressive and shameless lies in a medieval show trial of state assassination. They have sabotaged his right to a fair trial. They are breaking their own constitution.”

She claimed her father, a US resident and German citizen, had been kept incommunicado for two years and can barely walk. In pictures of him in court on Tuesday he appeared a broken man. She said: “Myself and my mother feel physically nauseated and unable to sleep with the worry. The nausea keeps building.”

She said her father had only been allowed to speak to his wife this year twice in heavily supervised calls, something Gazelle described as a form of torture in itself. The couple have been married for 40 years.

An online petition has gathered more than 75,000 signatures calling on the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, to intervene.

Sharmahd had been living in California since 2003 where he had set up a website that curated dissident news and opinions from Iranians inside the country. Gazelle said her father’s articles were critical of the Iranian regime, but she insists he never advocated or directed terrorism.

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Sharmahd’s family say he was captured aged 67 by the Iranians when he had to make a three-day stop-over at Dubai airport on a trip from Germany to India on 28 July 2020.

They claim he was also previously the victim of assassination attempts in California.

Tehran by contrast claims he played a role in a 2008 terrorist attack on a mosque in Shiraz that left 14 dead, and more than 100 wounded.

The final court hearing heard claims that he had been responsible for more than the 2008 attack, and had been directing terrorist activities from Afar, attacks that had been foiled more than 30 times by the intelligence services.

Some observers claim there has been a notable rise in the numbers of foreign nationals being captured or prosecuted as the talks on the future of the Iran nuclear deal remain frozen. At the same time the number of Iranians being arrested has also risen. The arrests have followed the appointment of General Mohammad Kazemi, to head the IRGC intelligence organisation. He formerly headed the IRGC’s counterintelligence unit.

Sharmahd’s family said they were told his defense lawyer, a government appointed attorney, had been duty bound to reference a 10-page confession he allegedly signed while under torture, so the prospect of his release is minimal.

Iranian news agencies claimed in their report that he had denied some charges, but implied he regretted some attacks. The absence of independent reporters in the court makes it impossible to judge precisely what happened in court.


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