As Iranian diplomats attend the United Nations General Assembly and the Biden administration seeks to get back to the nuclear negotiating table with Iran, the Iranian regime has just reminded us again of its fundamental nature.
On September 12, 2020, just over one year ago, the Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed. His “crime” was participating in the large political protests in Iran in 2018. He “confessed” to murdering a security guard, but that so-called confession came under torture—as Afkari revealed in a tape he smuggled out of prison. The Iranian regime’s courts rejected Afkari’s complaints, rejected the calls for his release that came from all over the world, and hanged Afkari.
But they were not done. What has been revealed this past week is that Afkari’s cellmate Shahin Naseri, who testified that Afkari had been tortured, has now died in prison. Radio Farda, a U.S. government radio station in Farsi, said it possessed an audio message from Naseri referring to “medieval torture” of Afkari. Messages like that from Naseri appear to have been a death sentence for him.
No doubt the regime will say he committed suicide or was killed by a fellow prisoner, but it is difficult to imagine that anyone—inside Iran or outside—will believe that statement. And given the nature of the regime, there cannot be any kind of independent investigation.
So Naseri's death is a grim reminder, days after the anniversary of Afkari’s execution, of the lawless nature of the Islamic Republic and of its willingness to use any degree of brutality to retain its grip on power.