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AFP
AFP
World
Ramin Khanizadeh

Iran confirms death sentence for Swedish-Iranian dissident

Iranian-swedish dissident Habib Chaab during his trial on January 18, 2022. ©AFP

Tehran (AFP) - Iran's judiciary on Sunday confirmed a death sentence for a Swedish-Iranian dissident for "terrorism", a decision Stockholm denounced as "inhumane".

Habib Chaab has been held in Iran since October 2020 after he vanished during a visit to Turkey and was put on trial in Tehran -- which does not recognise dual nationality.

Chaab, convicted of "corruption on earth" for heading a rebel group, was sentenced to death on December 6.

On Sunday, the judiciary's Mizan Online website said Iran's Supreme Court had upheld the ruling.

"The death sentence of Habib Farajollah Chaab on charges of corruption on earth...was approved by the Supreme Court," Mizan report.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said the Swedish government and diplomats in Tehran "are working intensively to get further clarity" on Chaab's case.

"The death sentence is an inhumane and irreversible punishment and Sweden, together with the rest of the EU, condemns its use in all circumstances," Billstrom told AFP in an email.

Mizan said Chaab had been sentenced for "the formation, management and leadership of a rebel group called Harakat al-Nidal, and the design and execution of numerous terrorist operations in Khuzestan province".

Iran has accused Harakat al-Nidal of "cooperation with other terrorist groups" including in a 2018 attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, the Khuzestan provincial capital, that authorities said killed 25 people and wounded almost 250.

Chaab is the latest person to be sentenced to death over membership of Harakat al-Nidal, or Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, which Iran considers a "terrorist group".

Iranian prosecutors have said the group's main objective was "the disintegration of the Iranian province of Khuzestan" in the country's southwest.

According to the prosecution, other leaders of Harakat al-Nidal are based in Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, with the group receiving financial and logistical support from Saudi Arabia.

Last week, Mizan said a court in Ahvaz had sentenced to death six members of the group over attacks carried out by "orders of their European leaders".

They had been found guilty of "armed operations" between 2017 and 2019 that killed four people, including a soldier and two members of Iran's Basij paramilitary force, the report said.

Iranian state television had aired a video of Chaab in which he claimed responsibility for the 2018 military parade attack and admitted to working with Saudi intelligence services.

Oil-rich Khuzestan is home to a large Arab minority, and its people have long complained of marginalisation.

Dual nationals on death row

Iran executes more people yearly than any other nation except China, according to rights groups including Amnesty International.

Three dual nationals including Chaab have been sentenced to death or executed over security-related charges since the start of the year, according to the judiciary.

In January, the judiciary executed Alireza Akbari, a former Iranian official with British citizenship who had been convicted of espionage, bringing the tense ties between London and Tehran under new strain.

The Tehran Revolutionary Court in February sentenced to death German-Iranian Jamshid Sharmahd, 67, over his connection with a deadly mosque bombing in 2008.

Sharmahd's sentence is pending confirmation by the Supreme Court.

At least 16 Western passport holders, most of them dual nationals, are detained in Iran.

Tehran insists all have been subject to proper judicial process.

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