Tehran Uses Blackmail to Shield Iranian Officials’ Crimes

As it threatens execution, Iran rules out a prisoner swap with Sweden

Mehdi Akbaei
Mehdi Akbaei

Tehran Uses Blackmail to Shield Iranian Officials’ Crimes

For years, the world has been hearing about human rights violations in Iran, and global condemnation and even sanctions against the regime have failed to change the lives of Iranians.

The appeasement policy and refusal to hold Tehran accountable for its crimes both at home and abroad has effectively created systemic impunity for Iranian state officials, and even those involved in terrorist attacks knew how to safely return home.

However, things have begun to change since 2018. The Iranian regime's diplomatic envoy, Assadollah Asadi, who was the third secretary of the Iranian embassy in Austria, was arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting a bombing against the Free Iran rally in Paris. He was tried by the Belgian judiciary and is currently serving a 20-year sentence in prison in Belgium.

Hamid Nouri, a former prison guard, was arrested in Sweden in 2019 for murder and war crimes in connection with his active role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran.

The majority of these detainees belonged to or supported Iran's main opposition, the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK).

During the trial's final days, Swedish prosecutors emphasized Nouri's role as one of those implicated in the 1988 genocide by citing the harrowing testimonies of MEK supporters and members who survived the massacre, as well as prisoners of Marxist groups. Prosecutors demanded that Nouri be sentenced to life in prison.

The trial and eventual conviction of Nouri can be described as a historical development in Iran's Popular Resistance. This movement, launched in 1988 by the leader of the Iranian resistance, Massoud Rajavi, and continued in 2016 by the head of the Iranian opposition, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, calls for the arrest of all criminals involved in this crime, including the current regime's leader, Ebrahim Raisi.

Sensing the dire consequences of Nouri's trial, the Iranian regime is now using blackmail to overturn the court's decision. As the Stockholm court announced that Hamid Nouri's sentence would be announced by mid-July, the Iranian regime played its final card: the execution of Ahmad Reza Jalali, an Iranian-Swedish citizen who has been held hostage in Iran since 2016.

The semi-official Iranian Students News Agency reported on Wednesday that Jalali would be executed on May 21 for "espionage for Israel." Jalali, a disaster medicine physician and researcher, was detained in Iran in April 2016 while on an academic visit. His arrest, like that of another dual national, is part of Tehran's blackmail strategy. However, Tehran denies that the latest announcement is related to blackmail.

According to Iranian state television, the regime's Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, demanded Nouri's immediate release during a phone call with his Swedish counterpart. Stockholm also tried to prevent Tehran from proceeding with the death sentence.

Meanwhile, "Sweden and the European Union condemn the death penalty and demand the release of Jalali. We have repeatedly told Iranian officials this. We are in contact with Iran." Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde tweeted.

This is not the first time that Iran's ruling hardliners have used blackmail as a diplomatic tactic. The regime did the same when Tehran's terrorist diplomat, Assadollah Asadi, was about to be sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2020.

The mullahs began their rule in 1979 with the famous Iranian hostage crisis, and hostage-taking soon became the modus operandi of their regime.

Iran's ruling theocracy has long used dual citizenship as a scapegoat to achieve its nefarious goals. In other words, Tehran intends to rescue Nouri while obstructing the justice movement through hostage-taking or deception.

Mohsen Rezaei, the former head of the mullahs' guards, told the Iranian regime's state TV channel on July 13, 2015: “Another issue is that Americans must recognize that they cannot conduct military operations against Iran... If the Americans intend to attack Iran, make sure we arrest 1,000 of them in the first week and force them to pay a billion dollars each. This may solve many of our economic problems, but I advise them not to consider it.”

The Iranian regime's and the mullahs' guards' hostage-taking strategy - Hassan Abbasi's January 2020 speech.

To counter the mullahs' blackmail, there is a need for European and international awareness, followed by determined action. The world must see how firmly Tehran will respond when it is punished for terrorism and human rights violations.

Nouri's trial is significant, but it is only the first step. Europe, like Raisi, must demand greater accountability and hold criminals accountable.

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