Iranian-German citizen Jamshid Sharmahd has been sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran after being found guilty of planning and directing terrorist acts. The verdict was delivered on Tuesday and reported on the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan website.
The case of Jamshid Sharmahd
Mr Sharmahd, who holds US residency, was accused of being the mastermind of the 2008 bombing at a mosque in Iran that killed 14 people and injured over 200. He was also charged with “corruption on earth”, a broad accusation that has been brought against suspected terrorists, religious minority activists, and protesters.
The arrest of Mr Sharmahd was announced in 2020 by the Intelligence Ministry, which referred to him as “the ringleader of the terrorist Tondar group, who directed armed and terrorist acts in Iran from America.” Currently, there are about two dozen foreigners and dual citizens detained in Iran as hopes of reviving a 2015 deal on Tehran’s nuclear program fade, and anti-regime demonstrations continue for four months.
Last month, Iran executed former defense minister Ali Reza Akbari, a British-Iranian who was convicted of spying for MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence agency, and was accused of involvement in the assassination of Iran’s senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Mr. Akbari was hanged “after going through all the legal procedures and confirming the court verdict in the Supreme Court,” as reported by Mizan.
In January, Iran also sentenced Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele to a total of 40 years in prison and 74 lashes on charges of spying for the US, money laundering, and currency smuggling. Mr. Vandecasteele was given 12 and a half years in jail on each of three charges – espionage, collaboration with hostile governments, and money laundering – and fined $1 million.
Why does Iran not recognise dual nationality?
Iran does not recognize dual nationality, meaning that individuals who hold Iranian citizenship in addition to citizenship in another country are considered solely Iranian in the eyes of the Iranian government. This means that if such individuals are arrested or detained in Iran, the Iranian government may not recognize their other nationality, and they may not be able to receive consular assistance from the other country’s embassy or diplomatic mission in Iran.
The Iranian government’s stance on dual nationality is based on its interpretation of Islamic law, which considers nationality to be a matter of personal identity and loyalty. The Iranian government believes that an individual cannot be truly loyal to two different countries at the same time, and that holding dual nationality can create conflicts of interest and undermine national security.
In practice, this policy has created difficulties for individuals with dual nationality, including Iranian-Americans and Iranian-British nationals, who have been arrested and detained in Iran in recent years. In August last year, Iran sentenced two Swedish citizens to multiyear prison terms on charges of drug smuggling. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian citizen was arrested in 2016 in Tehran while working as a charity project manager. She was accused of spying by the country’s authorities which she denied but was only released in 2022 after a long running dispute between Britain and Iran.
Critics argue that the policy is discriminatory and violates the rights of individuals to access consular assistance from their other country of nationality. Not only does Iran not recognise dual nationality, but last month, Iran sentenced an ethnic Iranian-Kurdish pregnant woman, Shahla Abdi, to death. Although international laws prohibit the execution of pregnant women, this is not the first time that Iran has sentenced a pregnant woman to death. In Iran, the regime executed at least 50 pregnant women in the 1980s. The Iranian authorities also executed and hanged thousands of women in 1988, during the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran.
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