Jamshid Sharmahd: son of kidnapped dissident calls on Iran to free his father

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TThe son of an American-Iranian dissident, kidnapped by the Iranian authorities and not seen in public for a year, has called on the international community to speak out – he is increasingly concerned about the welfare of his sick father.

Days after Iran was accused of kidnapping New York-based reporter Masih Alinejad and even doing research on a speedboat from Brooklyn, Jamshid Sharmahd’s son said it was important to talk about his father, who up a year ago was arrested in just a slightly less unlikely manner.

“I would just say, ‘Don’t be quiet, we need to speak. Now is definitely the time, ‘”said 33-year-old Shayan Sharmahdsaid, who asked Iran to release its father.

“And that goes not only to everyone, but to all governments and organizations. It is concerning everybody.”

He said that was his father’s message too.

“He said the only thing to get rid of the regime is to make the public aware of it by exposing what it is doing – by striking back with the same force that it is fighting.”

His father, a 66-year-old software engineer who left Iran four decades ago and was the spokesman for a group seeking to overthrow the Iranian government, was apparently arrested in July 2020 at a hotel near Dubai International Airport in the United States Arab Emirates.

It is unclear what exactly happened, but the tracking device on Mr Sharmahdsaid’s cell phone showed it was moving from Dubai to the city of Al Ain and then crossing the border into Oman. The last signal came from Sohar, a port on the coast of the Gulf of Oman.

Just days later, the Iranian authorities announced that they had arrested Mr. Sharmahdsaid in a “complex operation” and blindfolded him on state television and confessed to a terrorist attack on the Iranian city of Shiraz that killed 14 people and more than 200 were injured.

Mr Sharmahd, who is a German citizen but lives in California and was in Dubai on his business trip from India, was the spokesman for a group, the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, campaigning for the abolition of the Islamist movement that came to power in 1979 Revolution . She wants to replace it with the pre-existing system of monarchy.

Amnesty International, highlighting Mr Sharmahd’s case and fearing for his life, pointed to the group of which he was spokesperson and produced weekly programs that had previously assumed responsibility for anti-government explosions in Iran. His family say he was never involved in any of the acts of violence alleged by the authorities.

Unlike some Iranian opposition groups, the United States did not regard the Kingdom Assembly of Iran as a terrorist group. (In 1953, the US and UK installed a monarch, or shah, and overthrew the elected Iranian prime minister in a coup.)

Author and critic of the Iranian regime reacts to the arrest of four Iranians for plotting to kidnap

Mr Sharmahd said it was unclear where his father was being held, the exact charges against him, or if there was a date for a trial. He said his family feared for his Parkinson’s father because in 2019 authorities lured 42-year-old dissident Ruhollah Zam to Iraq, who was accused of “corruption on earth” and was executed in December 2020.

The allegation, for which no evidence has been presented, is reportedly used in cases of alleged attempts to oust the government. Mr Sharmahd, who is a Parsi or Zoroastrian, called for the government to be replaced, accusing it of abusing the Koran to abuse the Iranian people.

Mr. Sharmahd said he was able to speak to his father about every two months. Their last conversation was in May and lasted 15 minutes. He said his father sounds reasonably good and that he seems to be cooperating with the authorities.

He said the Iranian government assigned two lawyers to his father, one of whom allegedly asked the family to pay $ 250,000. He said the second had previously represented Mr. Zam, the dissident who was hanged last year.

Mr Sharmahd said he believed the Iranian government was trying to intimidate all dissidents.

“It feels a bit desperate, like you’re being cornered,” he said.

“The world is slowly waking up and realizing that the regime that rules the country – which the people of Iran don’t like – is just bullying everyone around the world.”

Masih Alinejad has been a journalist for 20 years

(Getty Images,)

Emphasis is placed on Iran’s efforts to silence dissidents as the US government prepares to resume talks that would result in the country re-joining the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or the Iranian nuclear deal that the Sanctions against Tehran in exchange for verifiable guarantees have been lifted for its nuclear program.

The historic deal was brokered during Barack Obama’s tenure. Donald Trump condemned this during his presidential candidacy and withdrew from Washington in May 2018. He also re-imposed harsh economic and financial sanctions and launched a propaganda campaign that would lead to the collapse of the Iranian government.

In June, elections took place in Iran, in which the conservative former chairman Ebrahim Raisi won the presidency. Other members of the Iran deal – Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union – have held talks with Iran in an attempt to revive the deal famously denounced by then Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

One factor that worries many parties is whether the US can be trusted not to pull out if there is a future change of president.

“We want to ensure that what happened when Trump was withdrawn from the agreement is not repeated by any other American president in the future,” Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi told Al-Jazeera.

The family’s U.S. attorney Jason Poblete claimed Iran had kidnapped people for four decades. This was done in order to get money, gain political influence and send a message, he claimed.

“You tried to murder Mr. Sharmahd in 2009,” he said. “The Iranians have done that often.”

The US State Department directed The independents Inquiries to the German government because Mr Sharmahd had traveled with a German passport. There was no immediate reaction from the German Foreign Ministry or the Foreign Ministry of Iran.

Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian-American political analyst with Carnegie Endowment, a Washington DC think tank, said he doesn’t believe the conspiracy to arrest Ms. Alinejad, which authorities revealed this week, is related to the ongoing nuclear talks since the incubation took place while Mr. Trump was President.

Rather, it referred to Iran’s “deep uncertainty and lack of trust” about its own trust.

“I don’t think this will affect the Biden government’s efforts to revive the nuclear deal,” he said. “But if an agreement is reached, it will be a tougher sale to justify the Iranian government imposing tens of billions of dollars in sanctions while actively trying to kidnap and possibly execute US citizens in Brooklyn.”



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