In the summer of 2020, Jamshid Sharmahd was abducted from Dubai by agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran and taken to Iran. This happened during a stopover on a business trip to India. Just a few days later, he was paraded on Iranian state television. Blindfolded, he was forced to confess to a crime he had not committed. For the family, this video came as a shock. "We are still completely stunned that this happened," says daughter Gazelle Sharmahd.
Jamshid Sharmahd has been held in an unknown location in Iran since August 2020. He is denied all due process rights, any access to the German consulate and a lawyer. He has been severely mistreated and tortured. He faces the death penalty and imminent execution in a show trial.
Daughter Gazelle Sharmahd says of her father, "He is a great father. He is the foundation that holds our family together. He has always put the family's needs before his own. He has worked hard to give us a better future. In addition to his work, he has worked tirelessly for human rights. He devoted much of his life to advocating for the oppressed people of Iran. To do this, he used the radio and social media. To me, he is the true definition of a freedom fighter. But now he needs help himself: we need the help of all people, the press, and governments of the free world to bring our father home."
Youth in Iran and Germany: Jamshid Sharmahd was born in Tehran, Iran in 1955. At the age of 7, he traveled to Germany for the first time with his father and spent most of his youth there. The German-Iranian family lived in Peine. Among other things, he completed an apprenticeship as an electrician here.
Shortly before the Islamic Revolution, Jamshid returned to Iran in 1979. There he married his current wife soon after. Soon Jamshid was at constant risk of imprisonment as a human rights activist and political activist in Iran. Therefore, only a few years later, the young couple fled Iran back to Germany with their one-year-old daughter Gazelle.
Since 1983, the young family lived in Hanover, and Jamshid graduated here in 1989 with a degree in engineering. In 1995, he obtained German citizenship and two years later founded "Sharmahd Computing GmbH".
Human rights activist in the US: In 2003, the family ventured a new start and moved to California, USA. There, too, Jamshid campaigned for human rights and freedom in Iran. In 2006, he created the website tondar.org. On this website, political dissidents could anonymously report on human rights violations in Iran. However, this also brought him into the sights of the Iranian state. In 2008, Jamshid Sharmahd and one of his associates were linked to terrorist attacks in Iran on Iranian television. A years-long campaign by the regime against Jamshid began.
Assassination attempt on Jamshid Sharmahd: But not only that: In 2009, the Iranian state tried to carry out an assassination attempt against Jamshid. This failed, however, because the assassin became afraid and turned himself in to the police. In a court case, Iranian Reza Sadeghnia was found guilty of hiring a hit man to assassinate Sharmahd. The client was the Iranian state. After a year in prison, Sadeghnia was granted parole and did not return to prison. (Link to report here: CNN). The stress of the assassination made Jamshid ill. Among other things, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Abduction to Iran: In March 2020, Jamshid left for a three-week business trip to India and Germany. Due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was unable to leave India again for three long months. In June, he also failed to return to the United States, where only U.S. citizens could travel at the time. As a German citizen, Jamshid initially traveled to Germany, but then decided to fly to India again in July 2020 for business reasons. The flight had a stop in Dubai. There, several flights were canceled for onward travel. His stay in a hotel near the airport in Dubai therefore lasted several days.
On July 28, 2020, the last video chat with his family took place. After that, all calls and text messages went unanswered. On the morning of August 1, a state broadcaster in the Islamic Republic of Iran published a video in which Jamshid was blindfolded and forced to confess to crimes he had not committed. Iran's intelligence minister stated that it had succeeded in "capturing" Jamshid through a "complex operation."
Show trial in Iran: In February 2022, Jamshid was brought before the court without legal representation on three trial days. The trial must be described as a political show trial because it is partially broadcast on Iranian state media. Human rights activists fear the imposition of the death penalty because Judge Abolqasem Salavati - also known as the "death judge" - is presiding. In addition, the charge is "corruption on earth," which in the Islamic Republic of Iran's legal system means the death penalty. The next day of the trial can take place at any time. Execution is not announced in advance in Iran and threatens at any time. Jamshid does not have access to an independent lawyer chosen by the family; he has not been approved by the authorities. A lawyer appointed by the regime is to provide Jamshid's public defense. The public defender demanded a sum of 250,000 euros from the family for this service. In early January, the family learned that the last "trial day" was to take place on January 10, 2023. A death sentence is feared. At the moment (16.1.2023) it is not yet clear what came out of the mock trial. In the meantime, fortunately, there is more attention for the case. Friedrich Merz (CDU) has taken on a political sponsorship.
How is Jamshid Sharmahd doing today? The human rights activist has been held incommunicado in an unknown location in Iran for nearly 900 days (January 2023). According to the UN Convention on Human Rights, incommunicado detention lasting longer than 14 days is tantamount to torture. He has no access to the German Consulate, no contact with his lawyer or the outside world. He has only been allowed to speak to his wife on the phone very briefly and under supervision five times in the past 19 months. He has lost a lot of weight and all his teeth. He suffers from heartaches and other pains as well as breathing difficulties and can no longer walk properly.
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Every report about the kidnapping, the trial, Jamshid's situation helps. International attention increases the pressure on the Iranian regime to treat Jamshid better and the pressure on the German government to stand up for him. We are happy to put members of the press in touch with the Sharmahd family.
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