Iran expels German diplomats as row continues over death sentence

Photo: Reuters

Iran expelled two German diplomats on Wednesday for allegedly “interfering” in Iran’s judicial and internal affairs.

According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani, the two diplomats were ordered to leave Iran due to Germany’s “irresponsible” interference.

Kanaani did not name the diplomats but noted the German ambassador in Iran had been summoned and informed of the decision, IRNA reported.

The move relates to the case of Iranian-German Jamshid Sharmahd, who was sentenced to death in February for the crime of “corruption on earth.” Sharmahd is accused of leading a group that carried out a deadly mosque attack in the Iranian city of Shiraz in 2008.

This is not however the first time a dual Iranian and European national has been sentenced to death. In January, Iran executed Iranian-British Alireza Akbari for espionage. Akbari was a former Iranian defense official and was accused of being a British spy.

Meanwhile, Berlin on Wednesday criticized the decision and said it was “arbitrary and unjustified.”

“They have done nothing wrong,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Berlin said.

According to Germany’s Deutsche Welle, the decision came a week after a similar move by the German government. It expelled two employees of the Iranian Embassy in Berlin in response to the death sentence handed down to Sharmahd.

Family of the 67-year-old activist and software developer, who is also a US resident, had urged the German government to “save his life.”

His family and supporters have rejected the charges in the strongest terms and asked Berlin to “act immediately” to save “his life.” However, Iranian courts do not recognize dual citizenship.

Prosecutors charged that Sharmahd had established contact with “FBI and CIA officers” and had “attempted to contact Israeli Mossad agents.” The judiciary said Sharmahd had planned to commit 23 “terrorist” acts, of which he succeeded in five.