The dual-national prisoner Jamshid Sharmahd has denied all wrongdoing in the sixth session of his trial at Branch 15 of Iran’s Revolutionary Court.
The 67-year-old father-of-two was abducted while on a layover in Dubai in August 2020. Sharmahd, a German citizen and resident of the United States since 2003, is accused by the Islamic Republic of “corruption on earth” for his ties to the opposition group Tondar (Thunder).
The founder of a software company, Sharmahd became a spokesperson for Tondar’s TV station in California after a series of twists of fate in the mid- to late 2000s. The Iranian regime has unilaterally accused Tondar of being behind the bombing of a mosque in Shiraz in 2008, which killed 12 people.
Tuesday’s hearing was again presided over by Judge Abolghasem Salavati, a regime loyalist who has ruled on some of Iran’s most notorious trials, including those of dual-national hostages and kidnapped dissidents such as Ruhollah Zam.
Salavati again listed the charges against Sharmahd and claimed that he was responsible for “leading the Tondar group”, “plotting to assassinate officials” and “devising and directing terrorist acts” – including the Shiraz mosque bombing and a litany of other alleged incidents over the past decade. The IRGC has also accused him of terrorist financing.
Sharmahd denied all the accusations listed in the indictment. Speaking in his own defense in what was to be the final session of the court, he said of how he came to be associated with Tondar: “I started a software company in the US in 2002. I got interested in subjects related to the history of Iran and Islam and promoted them.”
He said an individual by the name of Majid Rastgoo had contacted him ahead of the 2008 bombing and told him he had “a project he wanted to carry out”.
At the time, Sharmahd said, he had told Rastgoo: “Tell me about the project when it’s finalized.” He said he knew nothing of the details.
During his incarceration, Sharmahd was told, he had signed a document stating that he accepted responsibility for the bombing. He responded: “Yes. But I didn’t do anything.”
Since he was brought back to Iran in summer 2020, Sharmahd, who has Parkinson’s disease, has been held in solitary confinement and been allowed only intermittent, supervised contact with his family.
A video clip showing him blindfolded and “confessing” to the 2008 attack aired on PressTV, the English-language arm of IRIB, shortly after his arrest. This led to mounting fears that the case against him is subject to political pressure, and that the statements had been coerced.
Amnesty International has described the trial as “grossly unfair”, adding of Sharmahd’s case: “He has been arbitrarily detained in Iran for over eight months, at times in circumstances akin to enforced disappearance, without access to an independent lawyer of his choosing and consular assistance.”
The “corruption on earth” charge carries the death penalty in Iran. Sharmahd’s children have repeatedly said his trial is a “show” with a pre-ordained outcome. The family’s lawyer, Jason Poblete, has stated that he was also the subject of a Tehran-backed assassination plot as early as 2009.
In a post on Twitter on Monday, daughter Gazelle Sharmahd wrote: “The lawyer informed my family that the last session of my father’s trial will be held at 9am Tehran time tomorrow. The Islamic Republic is preparing itself for his intentional murder.”