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California Man Faces Execution in Iran for Being a Journalist

His daughter says Iran is emotionally and psychologically torturing her father.
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a televised New Year speech, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 21, 2022. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a televised New Year speech, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 21, 2022. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

With the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey set to meet in Tehran Tuesday to frame up their plans for the Mideast, a legal U.S. resident and German citizen Jamshid Sharmahd faces public execution for being a journalist. 

Speaking from California, Sharmahd’s daughter Gazelle told Fox News Digital that a Tehran regime lawyer told the family a “death sentence is certain.” Gazelle said a sixth hearing of her father’s “sham trial” might unfold this week. Iran’s regime refused to allow an independent lawyer to represent Sharmahd.  

The clerical regime kidnapped the 67-year-old Sharmahd in July 2020 while he was staying at a hotel in Dubai. Sharmahd has lived in California since 2003. 

Tehran’s opaque justice system claims Sharmahd played a role in a 2008 terrorist attack at a mosque in Shiraz, Iran that left 14 dead and more than 200 injured.  

However, the regime-controlled media outlet Fars News quoted the Iranian National Security Council in 2008 as saying, “The explosion of a bomb or any explosion carried out by opposition elements, be they internal or foreign, is ruled out. The blast was caused by some munitions used in an exhibition for the [Iran-Iraq War] martyrs in the mosque.”

Gazelle said the trial is designed to find a scapegoat for the 2008 blast and to “persecute dissidents and activists.” 

Sharmahd worked as a radio journalist in California exposing the high levels of Iranian citizens’ dissatisfaction with the theocratic state. “My dad created a website where activists [in Iran] could post articles, and he would talk about it on his radio show,” Gazelle said.  

Germany, which has been Iran’s most important trade partner over the decades, has faced widespread criticism for failing to prioritize Sharmahd’s case and win his freedom.

“I don’t see true actions from Germany. If Germany wants to rescue my dad, they can. They have the resources,” said Gazelle.

The “true actions” she demands include support for calls from Iranian-Americans and German-Iranians to apply maximum pressure on the regime to secure her father’s release. Iranian-American human rights activist Lawdan Bazargan said Berlin should pull the plug on its diplomatic relationship with Tehran to send a message to Iran’s rulers about Sharmahd’s dire plight. “Germany should have broken its ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran years ago,” she said.

Bazargan, who was imprisoned by the regime in the 1980s for dissident activity, said Germany continues to refuse to see “the big picture that the IRI [the Islamic Republic of Iran] is a state-sponsor of terrorism and is a danger for humanity.” 

Kazem Moussavi, a German-Iranian dissident and spokesman for the Green Party of Iran in exile, told Fox News Digital, “The regime in Iran is determined to execute the Iranian opposition figure and German citizen Jamshid Sharmahd. 

“I’ll say frankly: His only chance of survival is if the [Berlin] federal government acts consistently and immediately. I call on Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to unequivocally demand that the ayatollahs release Jamshid Sharmahd immediately and to stress that Germany will sever relations with the regime and severely sanction it if there is an execution.”  

Lisa Daftari, an expert on Iran and editor-in-chief of The Foreign Desk website, told Fox News Digital, “The U.S. and Germany should absolutely use whatever diplomatic leverage they have to sanction the regime over Sharmahd’s case.” 

She continued, “The recent uptick in human rights abuses by Iran’s regime, particularly in the targeting of foreign nationals, is a consequence of weak policies against the mullahs. They want to show the world that they have the upper hand and the more dominant negotiating position vis-à-vis the West, and taking hostages and making examples out of them has been their modus operandi since they came to power in Tehran [in 1979].” 

Jason I. Poblete, Sharmahd’s U.S.-based lawyer, told Fox News Digital: “If there is going to be a release of hostages in Iran that includes U.S. nationals – and it seems that there will be – then Jimmy [Jamshid] must be on that list. Mr. Sharmahd was kidnapped, paraded on Iranian state television by the supreme leader, and is being held hostage. The Americans, Germans and other stakeholders must do a whole lot more than what they have been doing.” 

When Fox News Digital asked the German Foreign Ministry if it would announce that it would cut diplomatic and economic relations with Iran’s regime if the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentences Sharmahd to death, a spokesman dodged the question and said: “The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment which the federal government, under all circumstances and unreservedly, opposes. We keep telling Iran this clearly in connection with Mr. Sharmahd.” 

For Gazelle, the foreign ministry statement was yet another platitude that she and her family have been hearing for the 720 days her father, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has been held in isolation. 

“All of his teeth, with the exception of two, have fallen out. They are emotionally and psychologically torturing Jimmy. And the German government just says we condemn the death penalty in general. They have to do something.” 

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital press query. 

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