Afkari’s case had drawn the attention of a social media campaign that presented him and his brothers as targeted victims for participating in protests against Iran’s Shia theocracy in 2018. Authorities accused Afkari for stabbing an employee of a water supply company in the southern town of Shiraz amid the unrest. .
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Iran broadcast the wrestler’s televised confession last week. The segment looked like hundreds of other alleged forced confessions broadcast over the past decade in the Islamic Republic.
The case has rekindled a demand inside the country for Iran to stop applying the death penalty. Even jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, herself nearly a month on a hunger strike over detention conditions in Evin prison in Tehran amid the coronavirus pandemic, made to know that she was supporting Afkari.
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The International Olympic Committee in a statement on Saturday said it was shocked and saddened by the news of the wrestler’s execution, and that committee chairman Thomas Bach “had made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and the President Iranian this week and asked for mercy on Navid Afkari.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the execution was cruel.
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“We condemn her in the strongest terms. It is a scandalous attack on human dignity, even by the contemptible standards of this regime. The voices of the Iranian people will not be silenced, ”Pompeo tweeted.
Last week, President Donald Trump tweeted his own concern over Afkari’s case.
“To the Iranian leadership, I would very much appreciate if you spared the life of this young man and did not execute him,” Trump wrote. ” Thank you! ”
Iran responded to Trump’s tweet with an almost 11-minute public television program on Afkari. It understood the weeping parents of the murdered water company employee. The package included footage of Afkari in the back of a motorcycle, claiming he stabbed the employee in the back, without explaining why he allegedly carried out the assault.
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The state television segment showed unclear police documents and described the murder as a “personal dispute,” without giving details. He said Afkari’s cell phone was in the area and he showed surveillance footage of him walking down a street, talking on his phone.
Last week, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency dismissed Trump’s tweet in a report, saying US sanctions hit Iranian hospitals amid the pandemic.
“Trump is worried about the life of a murderer as he puts the lives of many Iranian patients at risk by imposing severe penalties,” the agency said.
© 2020 The Canadian Press