Iran Executes Young Wrestler Despite Trump Appeal

By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) - Family members of a young wrestler have been plunged into mourning after Iranian authorities executed him by hanging following his participation in anti-government protests.

The death sentence of 27-year-old Navid Afkari was carried out over the weekend at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz despite last-minute appeals by U.S. President Donald Trump. “To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Trump wrote on his Twitter website last week. “Thank you!”

Iran said it had executed Afkari on charges of murder after he attended anti-government rallies over economic and social hardship two years ago.

He had been found guilty of "voluntary homicide" for stabbing to death Hossein Torkman, a water department employee, on August 2, 2018, the judiciary said.

However, the accusations against him had been met with widespread skepticism in Iran and abroad. Critics argued he was being used as an example to silence dissent in the automatically-ruled Islamic nation.

ALLEGING TORTURE

In an audiotape smuggled from prison, Afkari claimed he had been tortured until he falsely confessed to the crime.

The case set off a campaign by international sports groups to demand amnesty for the athlete. Even the International Olympic Committed asked for a pardon. The IOC said it was “devastated” and “deeply saddened” about Afkari’s death.

It comes amid a broader reported crackdown on alleged threats to Iran’s leadership, including on the growing number of people turning from Islam to faith in Christ.

On Monday, rights activists confirmed that Iranian Christian converts had fled Iran following the rejection of their appeals. Kvian Fallah-Mohammadi, Hadi Asgari, and Amin Afshar-Naderi were reportedly facing a combined 35 years in prison because of their faith, according to Christians familiar with their case.

They fled just weeks after two other Christians escaped Iran after also having their appeals rejected.

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