The relatives of Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian opposition figure say that he was abducted by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic while visiting Dubai.
Mr. Sharmahd's family told the Associated Press on Tuesday, August 3, that his cell phone location data showed that he had been taken to Oman before being transferred to Iran.
"We're seeking support from any democratic country, any free country," his son Shayan Sharmahd told the Associated Press. "It is a violation of human rights. You can't just pick someone up in a third country and drag them into your country."
He added that his father had planned to travel to India from Dubai for a business deal and hoped to get a connecting flight despite the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted global travel.
Jamshid Sharmahd is said to be the leader of Tondar, a little-known, shadowy monarchist group based abroad that the Iranian government accuses of some terror acts inside the country.
According to AP, Sharmahd's family received its last message from him on July 28. After that, he no longer responded to their calls and messages, his son said. Telephone location data showed his cellphone that day at the Premier Inn Dubai International Airport Hotel, where he had been staying.
It is not clear how he was abducted. A hotel manager said that Mr. Sharmahd had settled his account on July 29.
Tracking data showed that Sharmahd's cellphone traveled south from Dubai to Al Ain on July 29, crossing the border into Oman and staying overnight near an Islamic school in the border city of al-Buraimi.
Two days later, the Islamic Republic's Ministry of Intelligence announced in an official statement that it had arrested Mr. Sharmahd "following a complex operation."
The head of the fearsome Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' (IRGC) Intelligence Organization, Hossein Ta'ib,, called Mr. Sharmahd's detention, "a sign of the authority and strength of the Iranian intelligence community."
Meanwhile, Iran's Ministry of Intelligence insisted on claiming the full credit for the abduction, announcing that the man responsible for the Tondar group was under its custody in Iran.
Furthermore, when the IRGC-affiliated Javan newspaper reported that Jamshid Sharmahd had been arrested in Tajikistan, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence immediately denied it.
Tajikistan's Minister of Internal Affairs. Lt. General Ramazon Rahimzadeh also denied reports of Mr. Sharmahd's detention in Tajikistan on August 3.
In recent years, Jamshid Sharmahd has been introduced as the head of the Tondar group, which covered the media sections of the Association for Monarchy in Iran (Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, in Persian).
In its statement, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence accused the Tondar group of being involved in a deadly "explosion in a mosque in Shiraz." The family of Jamshid Sharmahd denied the allegation.
On April 12, 2008, a bomb exploded in a packed mosque in Shiraz, south Iran, that killed fourteen people and wounded 215.
Later in 2009, the Islamic Republic hanged three men convicted of the bombing in Shiraz, maintaining they had ties to the Association for Monarchy in Iran.
Sharmahd's family says that the person in charge of the Tondar group had nothing to do with the explosion.
The Association for Monarchy in Iran was founded by Fathollah Manouchehri under the pseudonym of Foroud Fouladvand in London. He had started his political and media activities in 2001.
In a mysterious situation, Fouladvand and two of his companions also disappeared while reportedly visiting Turkey in early 2007.
Amnesty International said in a statement on June 13, 2008 that Fouladvand might also be in the custody of Iran intelligence.
However, fourteen years later, the whereabouts of Fouladvand and his companions are still shrouded in mystery.
"Western officials believe Iran runs intelligence operations in Dubai and keeps tabs on the hundreds of thousands of Iranians living in the city-state. Iran is suspected of kidnapping and later killing British Iranian national Abbas Yazdi in Dubai in 2013, though Tehran has denied involvement," AP reported.