German-Iranian political dissident, Jamshid Sharmahd, is at risk of execution. He has been sentenced to death for “corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel-arz) following a grossly unfair trial. Since July 2020, the Iranian authorities have been subjecting him to enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment including through prolonged solitary confinement.
Authorities are also denying him adequate healthcare. They are routinely delaying his access to medications required for his Parkinson’s disease, resulting in severe body aches and difficulty breathing. During his last phone call to his family on 14 February 2023, he said his health has severely deteriorated, and he found it difficult to maintain his balance while standing up.
Download PDF of UA 41/21 below:
What you can do:
Write to the Head of Judiciary urging him to:
- Immediately quash the unjust conviction and death sentence of Jamshid Sharmahd, reveal his fate and whereabouts and, in light of his arbitrary detention, immediately release him.
- Pending his release, ensure that he is given regular access to family, adequate medical care, including dental care, a lawyer of his choosing and consular assistance from the German authorities.
- Ensure that he is protected from further torture and other ill-treatment.
- Conduct an effective and impartial investigation into his claims of torture and other ill-treatment, with a view of bringing those responsible to justice in fair trial.
Head of judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei
c/o Embassy of Iran to the European Union
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt No. 15, 1050
Salutation: Dear Mr Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei,
***If you use Twitter, we suggest targeting Iran’s Supreme Leader (@khamenei_ir) You can use the tweets below or model your message along these lines:
Iran’s authorities must immediately quash the unjust conviction & death sentence of tortured dissident German-Iranian Jamshid Sharmahd, who was sentenced to death following a grossly unfair trial. @khamenei_ir must release him immediately!
Jamshid Sharmahd, a resident of the USA and a journalist, created a website, Tondar, for the Kingdom Assembly of Iran (also known as Anjoman-e Padeshahi-ye Iran). The group is an opposition collective that advocates for an end to the Islamic Republic of Iran, including through violence. Jamshid Sharmahd hosted its radio and video broadcasts, including by reading out the website’s content, some of which was posted anonymously. The website included statements from the Kingdom Assembly of Iran claiming responsibility for explosions inside Iran. Jamshid Sharmahd has repeatedly denied his involvement in the violent acts attributed to him by the authorities.
On August 1, 2020, the Ministry of Intelligence announced in a statement that its secret agents, referred to as the “unknown soldiers of Imam Zaman” had arrested Jamshid Sharmahd following a “complex operation” without providing further details. The same day, the Minister of Intelligence, Mahmoud Alavi, stated that Jamshid Sharmahd was “heavily supported by the intelligence services of the USA and Israel” and that he had been “led” into Iran through “complex operations” and taken into the custody of the Ministry of Intelligence. This was widely understood to have meant that he was abducted by Iran’s intelligence agents from abroad – Jamshid Sharmahd had been in the UAE – and forcibly taken to Iran.
Following his abduction, Ministry of Intelligence agents told Jamshid Sharmahd that he was held in Tehran’s Evin prison. However, by late 2020 he told his family he was no longer there without being permitted to say more about his location. During a March 23, 2021 phone call, Jamshid Sharmahd said he had lost nearly 20kg and that only two of his teeth remained intact without being able to elaborate further, adding that he was only able to eat by using his gums to try to chew food.
Iranian state television aired propaganda videos showing him “confessing” to having a role in an April 2008 explosion in Shiraz, Fars province, in which 14 people were killed according to Iranian state media. In one propaganda video, released in January 2021, his forced “confessions” were interspersed with clips of his broadcasts for the Kingdom Assembly of Iran with him identified by the narrator as the group’s leader and a “terrorist”, undermining his presumption of innocence and right not to self-incriminate.
Throughout Jamshid Sharmahd’s investigation and trial, proceedings, he was denied access to an independent lawyer of his own choosing and the right to defend himself. His government-appointed lawyer told his family on July 2, 2022 that there was “no point” to him objecting against the Revolutionary Court admitting his forced “confessions” as evidence.
Prior to this, on May 9, 2021, the government-appointed lawyer said that without payment of US$250,000 from the family, he would not defend Jamshid Sharmahd in court and would only “sit there [in court]”. He was convicted of the charge of “corruption on earth” which is not clearly defined in law, and as such contravenes the principle of legality. His appeal in front of the Supreme Court is pending.
Forcible return to Iran
Since 2019, Amnesty International has documented other cases involving the abduction of dissidents based abroad by Iran’s security and intelligence agents and their forcible return to Iran. Dissident journalist Rouhollah Zam was abducted during a visit to Iraq in October 2019 by the Revolutionary Guards, apparently with the assistance of Iraqi intelligence authorities, and forcibly returned to Iran. He was executed in December 2020 following a grossly unfair trial.
Habib Chaab, an Iranian-Swedish dual national, currently detained in Iran, was abducted in Turkey in October 2020, and removed to Iran through what the Iranian authorities called “specialist and combined actions”. Turkish authorities wrote in a January 2021 reply to a communication from several UN Special Rapporteurs that he was “illegally smuggled to Iran the day after his arrival in Turkey.” Habib Chaab was sentenced to death on December 6, 2022 and his conviction and sentence were upheld by the Supreme Court on March 12, 2023, raising concerns that his execution is imminent.
Dual and foreign nationals as leverage
Jamshid Sharmahd’s enforced disappearance is taking place amidst the Iranian authorities’ well-documented pattern of arbitrarily detaining dual and foreign nationals as leverage, as highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, mostly recently in a July 2022 report, and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
In light of the Iranian authorities’ practice of using detained dual and foreign nationals as leverage, Amnesty International has repeatedly urged all states whose nationals are or have been detained at any point in Iran to promptly examine whether the deprivation of liberty amounts to an act of hostage-taking, and if so, take all appropriate measures to ensure accountability.