German gov’t to Post: Do not execute champion Iranian wrestler
here are growing fears expressed by Iranian human rights activists on Saturday that the Islamic Republic may immediately execute the decorated wrestler Navid Afkari after the authorities placed him in solitary confinement.
Germany’s foreign ministry told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that Iran’s regime should not execute Afkari.
“The federal government rejects the death penalty under all circumstances and regardless of the crime,” the foreign ministry wrote, adding that “The federal foreign office therefore appeals to Iran in talks to refrain from the practice of execution, to ensure fair and constitutional procedures and addresses this in particular with the imposition and execution of the death penalty against minors, with which Iran violates international obligations."
Germany has now become the second western government to publically urge Iran’s rulers not to execute Afkari, 27, who was handed two death penalty sentences over the murder of a security guard for a water company during protests in Shiraz.
Afkari participated in nation-wide protests in 2019 against the Iranian regime’s economic and political corruption.
He said he was subjected to torture to confess to the murder. Iran’s regime frequently imposes brutal torture methods on protestors to confess to crimes that they did not carry out.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Iran to overturn the death sentences passed down on Afkari.
"To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man's life, and not execute him," Trump tweeted on Thursday.
Former US acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell, told the Post that International Olympic Committee should probe the execution.
The Iranian journalist and human rights activist Masih Alinejad wrote to her over 202,000 followers “URGENT” in tweet, declaring “Navid Afkari has now been taken to solitary confinement and his family has no news of his situation. They’re worried about the fact that the authorities might be preparing his execution. Dear free world: please help us save his life. He is innocent.”
A global campaign has emerged over the last week to save Afkari’s life. Sally Roberts, the founder and CEO of Wrestle Like A Girl, tweeted a photograph of German female wrestlers holding a sign asking that Iran stop the execution of Afkari.
Wrestle Like a Girl seeks to “empower girls and women using the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life.”
The Jerusalem Post sent press queries on Saturday to German chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign minister Heiko Maas asking whether they believe Iran’s rulers should stop the execution of Afkari.
Dana White, President of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world's top mixed martial arts organization, posted a video on Thursday urging Iran’s government to overturn the double death penalty sentence imposed on Afkari.
In an Instagram video, White said that he "respectfully, humbly asks the government officials in Iran to please not execute this man and spare his life."
The Post has reported extensively on Afkari’s case.
US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said: "We join the world in outrage at the Iranian regime's death sentence for Navid Afkari, who was tortured into giving a false confession after participating in peaceful protests in 2018. The regime also tortured his two brothers and sentenced them to decades in prison. Let them go!"
Afkari was arrested in 2018 along with his two brothers in connection with their roles in nation-wide demonstrations against Iranian regime political and economic corruption. The regime claims that Afkari killed a security guard who worked for a state water company.
Afkari reportedly wrote in a letter that he was tortured into confessing the bogus charges attributed to him. He said his his captures covered his head with a plastic bag and poured alcohol into his nostrils.
The Post sent press queries to the human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Friday.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) told the Post on Thursday that, following a series of Post reports, the organization plans to confront the Islamic Republic of Iran about its slated execution of a decorated wrestler.
“The IOC is aware of the case of Navid Afkari and has, like United World Wrestling, taken steps to follow up on the matter,” wrote the IOC by email on the Post.
It is unclear if the IOC and United World Wrestling would be prepared to suspend Iran’s regime from international wrestling completion if Tehran executes Afkari.
Last year, The International Judo Federation banned Iran from competition because Iran’s regime ordered its judoka athletes not to compete against Israeli athletes. The Iranian regime policy was considered antisemitic because Israel athletes were singled out for discrimination.
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