Iranian footballer begs for help after being jailed for 26 years

An Iranian footballer has pleaded for help in an audio message from his jail cell after he became the latest victim of the nation’s brutal theocracy. Amir Nasr-Azadani, 26, who was arrested in November for allegedly “partaking in enmity against God”, could be heard pleading that he “did not deserve” the harsh sentence handed down to him, with the former athlete expected to spend at least 16 years in prison. 

In the leaked audio message, Amir Nasr-Azadani could be heard saying: “Whoever you are in contact with, my friends, footballer friends, send this message to them, so they know what conditions I am under.

“Hopefully, one day we can be together again. My hope is first of all with God and then the people outside.”

He added: “I hope they continue to support me because all these harsh sentences that were issued to me I really do not deserve. I really do not deserve. Me? 26 years? Is it possible?” 

The former Tractor S.C. player was arrested in November as anti-regime protests swept the country following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman killed on September 16 after being detained for several days by the Government’s morality police for improperly wearing her hijab. 

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Nasr-Azadani was sentenced to 26 years in prison, though he is expected to serve 16 years before being released. 

He was found guilty of “partaking in enmity against God” in relation to the killing of three security officers during demonstrations in Isfahan, central Iran, on November 16. 

The charge is one increasingly handed down by the Islamic regime as it looks to crack down on widespread protests against the oppressive theocracy. 

Under the regime’s interpretation of Shia law, based on the Jaafari school of Islamic jurisprudence, women are not afforded the same rights as men. 

The discriminatory measures are far-reaching and range from the repugnant to the ridiculous. For example, women have no right to get married without their father’s permission if they are still a virgin. 

Mr Nasr-Azadani appeared to confess to his participation in the killings of the three security officers on television. 

Reports, however, have suggested his confession was coerced and he has since denied his culpability. 

The use of forced admissions of guilt, often given after the accused is subjecting to periods of torture, are commonplace in Iran. 

A witness previously told local media IranWire Nasr-Azadani had been spotted at the protests and was seen chanting for a short while – but was nowhere near the area where the deaths took place.

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Human rights groups have called the trials a “sham” after three other protesters were sentenced to death in the same case. 

It comes after a dual nationality British-Iranian was executed by the state for alleged ties to MI6. 

Alireza Akbari, Iran’s former deputy defence minister, was killed by the regime last week in what commentators have described as a politically-motivated act. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described his execution as a “callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime”.

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