German gov’t to Post: Iranian wrestler must not be executed

Germany's federal government "rejects the death penalty under all circumstances."

IRANIAN PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani (right) and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Who wanted to pay the price of moral action to truly stop Iran? (photo credit: DANISH SIDDIQUI/ REUTERS)
IRANIAN PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani (right) and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Who wanted to pay the price of moral action to truly stop Iran?
Iran may execute decorated wrestler Navid Afkari, who has been placed in solitary confinement, Iranian human-rights activists said Saturday.
The Iranian regime should not execute Afkari, Germany’s Federal Foreign Office told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.
“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 is the second Western government to publicly urge Iran’s rulers not to execute Afkari, 27, who was given two death sentences for the murder of a water company’s security guard during protests in Shiraz.
Afkari participated in nationwide protests in 2019 against the Iranian regime’s economic and political corruption.
He said he was subjected to torture to confess to the murder. The Iranian regime frequently tortures protesters to make them confess to crimes they did not commit.
Last Thursday, US President Donald Trump urged Iran to overturn Afkari’s death sentences.
“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Trump tweeted.
The International Olympic Committee should probe the threat of execution, former US acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell told the Post.
Iranian journalist and human-rights activist Masih Alinejad, in an “URGENT” tweet to her more than 202,000 followers, wrote: “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 refrain from executing Afkari.
Wrestle Like a Girl seeks to “empower girls and women using the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life.”
Dana White, president of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s leading organization for mixed martial arts, on Thursday posted a video that urged Iran’s government to overturn the double death penalty sentence imposed on Afkari.
In an Instagram video, White said 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 nationwide demonstrations against the Iranian regime’s political and economic corruption. The regime claims that Afkari killed a security guard who worked for a state water company.
The security guard reportedly was assigned to identify the protesters and report them to the authorities. He is believed to have been a member of the regime’s brutal Basij force, which is used to repress anti-regime demonstrations.
Afkari reportedly wrote in a letter that he was tortured into confessing the charges attributed to him. He said his captors 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.
Last Thursday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), following a series of Post reports, told the Post it 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,” the IOC said in an email to the Post.
It is unclear if the IOC and United World Wrestling would be prepared to suspend Iran from international wrestling competitions if Tehran executes Afkari.
Last year, the International Judo Federation banned Iran from competitions because Iran’s regime ordered its judoka athletes not to compete against Israeli athletes. The Iranian regime’s policy was considered antisemitic because Israel athletes were singled out for discrimination.