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Iran Protester Sentenced To Death Removed To Unknown Location As State TV Broadcasts "Confession"

Iran -- Navid Afkari, Iranian wrestler has been reportedly sentenced to death for participating in anti-government protests in Shiraz and Kazerun, Iran.
Iran -- Navid Afkari, Iranian wrestler has been reportedly sentenced to death for participating in anti-government protests in Shiraz and Kazerun, Iran.

The lawyer of Navid Afkari, an Iranian protester and wrestler sentenced to death, said on Saturday that Navid and his two brothers have been removed from the Adelabad Prison of Shiraz and taken to an unknown location amid domestic and international pressure to drop their sentences.

Hassan Younesi, who recently began representing Navid’s case, told their Emtedad website that on Thursday that the Afkari family found out that he was removed from the general ward of the prison and relocated, later learning that the same had happened to his two brothers Habib and Vahid, who were also in prison for similar charges.

"Prisoners' families have a right to know about their situation and health," Younesi said.

Navid was originally arrested alongside his brothers in August 2018, and was charged by the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz with "taking up arms against the regime” and sentenced to a double death sentence for allegedly killing a security agent of the regime.

The Afkari brothers say they were psychologically and physically tortured and confessed to crimes that they had not committed.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the Mizan judiciary-affiliated news agency claimed that the "murder" was documented on CCTV, and that Navid had planned to assassinate a Basij militia member.

Navid sent an audio message from prison arguing for his innocence, claiming that he confessed to the killing under torture, that he did not in fact kill anyone and that the CCTV footage in the court’s possession proves his innocence.

In a video message on Sunday, Bahiyeh Namjoo, the mother of the three brothers, called for justice for her sons and said they were tortured to "make accusations against each other.”

Namjoo added that her husband and even her son-in-law were arrested in connection with her sons' case.

Meanwhile on Saturday evening, IRIB broadcast a video where Navid appears to confess to the killing, showing him gesturing that he hit the security guard, Hassan Turkman. IRIB also showed documents on-air that appeared to have his signed confession.

IRIB regularly airs forced confessions through its media outlets, a practice that has been criticized by both domestic and international activists.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, more than 355 forced confessions were aired by IRIB, whose head is appointed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian officials reject the allegations that such confessions are coerced.

The disclosure of the death sentences given to Navid has, in recent days, rekindled social media conversations about banning the death penalty, with U.S. President Donald Trump also previously urging Iran to drop the death sentence.