Wednesday , 29 November 2023

Three years of anguish for family of Iran death row German

arabnews – Frustration as other foreign nationals were set free. Occasional phone calls, months apart. And the constant fear that the executioner’s noose could be tightened any day.
The family of Jamshid Sharmahd have endured three years of torment as each day they await a breakthrough, while always fearing the worst, for the German citizen sentenced to death in Iran.
Sharmahd was abducted three years ago in late July 2020 by the Iranian authorities and sentenced earlier this year to be hanged for “corruption on earth.” Iran’s Supreme Court in April confirmed the death penalty.
Activists regard him as one of more than a dozen foreign passport holders held by Iran as hostages in a bid to extract concessions from the West.
His family says that Tehran-born Sharmahd, 68, a software developer who immigrated to Germany in the 1980s but then moved to live in the United States, was kidnapped by Iranian security services in the United Arab Emirates in July 2020, spirited over the border into Oman and then taken to Iran for trial.
Iran has never confirmed how Sharmahd was detained, saying only he was seized in a “complex operation.”
Amnesty International has said he was subjected to “enforced disappearance” followed by a “sham trial” and torture in detention. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has classified his detention as arbitrary and confirmed the family’s details on his abduction.
His family, who say he only holds a German passport, are urging stronger action from the German and other Western governments to earn his release.
Berlin expelled two Iranian diplomats in response to the death sentence, which it called “unacceptable.”
A protest is planned outside the German foreign ministry in Berlin on Monday afternoon to mark three years since Iran announced Sharmahd’s capture.
“There is no pressure. A German citizen was kidnapped and nothing happened,” his daughter Gazelle Sharmahd, who lives in the United States, said.
“It’s a game — they push and you push. The push for them is to hang my dad,” she said.
Sharmahd earlier in July was allowed to call his wife, also based in the US, for the first time in five months. He was also permitted to speak to Gazelle Sharmahd, the first time she had spoken to her father in two years.
But Gazelle Sharmahd said the one-hour conversation, in which he sounded tired, raised more questions than answers.
“Phone calls are great but also a reason for concern,” she said. “They always have a purpose. It could be either a window of opportunity to save his life or a goodbye call.”
“Was this to make us shut up before they execute him? Was this a goodbye?” she said.
The Mizan Online news agency of Iran’s judiciary reported in February that a Tehran court sentenced Sharmahd “on the charge of corruption on earth through planning and directing terrorist acts” including a 2008 bombing in Shiraz which killed 14 people.
His family ridicule these accusations, saying a “long series of baseless charges” were laid against him in addition to the mosque bombing.
In Berlin, a German foreign ministry spokesman said that the government was using “all channels” to ensure Sharmahd was not executed, while acknowledging his family was “going through something unimaginable and unbearable.”
Concern over the risk to Sharmahd’s life has intensified since Iran in May executed the Iranian-Swedish dissident Habib Chaab.
He was also convicted of “corruption on earth.” Mizan said Chaab led the “Harakat Al-Nidal terrorist group” which Iran blames for attacks in Khuzestan province.
According to Amnesty, Chaab was abducted in Turkiye in October 2020 to face trial in Iran.
Another Iranian-Swedish citizen, the academic Ahmadreza Djalali, is also at risk of being hanged after a conviction for “corruption on earth.” He was sentenced to death in 2017 based on accusations of spying for Israel that his family vehemently rejects.
Gazelle Sharmahd said she was thrilled for the family of Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele who was freed by Iran in a deal that saw the release of Asadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat convicted on terrorism charges over a plot to bomb an opposition meeting outside Paris.
Two Austrians and a Dane were days later freed by Iran in a related move under a deal Oman helped broker.
But Gazelle Sharmahd said the release of the four men in apparent exchange for Assadi had also left a bitter taste.
“It should have been everybody,” she said, denouncing a lack of Europe-wide coordination.
“How inhuman is it to leave people behind who have a death sentence? Belgium played the biggest card that Europe had,” she said.