Iran summons German envoy over tweet on executed wrestler - InfoNews

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Iran summons German envoy over tweet on executed wrestler

FILE - In this June 25, 2018 file photo, a group of protesters chant slogans at the main gate of the Old Grand Bazaar, in Tehran, Iran. On Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, Iran broadcast the televised confession of a wrestler facing the death penalty after a tweet from President Donald Trump criticizing the case, a segment that resembled hundreds of other suspected coerced confessions aired over the last decade in the Islamic Republic. The case of 27-year-old Navid Afkari has drawn the attention of a social media campaign that portrays him and his brothers as victims targeted over participating in protests against Iran's Shiite theocracy in 2018. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP, File)
September 14, 2020 - 6:52 AM

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran on Monday summoned Germany’s ambassador following his embassy's criticism of the execution last weekend of a wrestler after President Donald Trump asked for the 27-year-old man’s life to be spared.

The official IRNA news agency said a foreign ministry official told Ambassador Hans-Udo Muzel at the meeting that the tweet about the wrestler, Navid Afkari, amounted to an “intervention” in Iran’s domestic affairs and strongly protested the move.

“Intervention in Iran’s independent judicial affairs is not acceptable,” the statement quoted the unnamed official as saying, adding that the ambassador was advised the embassy should not go “beyond its diplomatic” duties.

The embassy's had earlier on Monday said on its Twitter account that it was “deeply surprised" about the execution and suggested the wrestler was executed as part of Iran's efforts to “silence opposing voices.".

Iran on Saturday executed Afkari, who was convicted of murder, despite an international outcry to stop the execution and following Trump's plea.

Afkari’s case had drawn attention after a social media campaign portrayed him and his brothers, who remain in prison, as victims who were targeted because they participated in protests against Iran’s Shiite theocracy in 2018.

Authorities accused Afkari of fatally stabbing a water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz amid the unrest.

Earlier in September, Iran broadcast the wrestler’s televised confession. The segment resembled hundreds of other suspected coerced confessions aired over the last decade in the Islamic Republic.

The case revived a demand inside the country for Iran to stop carrying out the death penalty. Even imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, herself nearly a month into a hunger strike over conditions at Tehran’s Evin prison amid the coronavirus pandemic, passed word that she supported Afkari.

The International Olympic Committee in a statement shortly after Saturday's execution said it was shocked and saddened by the news of the wrestler’s execution, and that the committee’s president, Thomas Bach, “had made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran this week and asked for mercy for Navid Afkari.”

Germany, alongside other world major powers, signed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran aimed at capping Iran’s nuclear activities in return of sanction relief. Trump pulled out the U.S. from the deal and reimposed sanction on Iran in 2018 but European powers including Germany remain in the deal.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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