Sister of executed Iranian fighter arrested, identified by state news as ‘agent’


Iranian officials said they have identified the “international agent of Iran” arrested on Thursday as Elham Afkari, the sister of famous Iranian fighter Navid Afkari, who was executed two years ago, according to the state news agency IRNA.

The London-based news channel Iran International has become one of the go-to sources for many Iranians looking for news about the ongoing protests in the country.

The opposition television station, which was labeled a “terrorist” organization by Iran’s intelligence minister on Tuesday, has denied any association with Elham.

In a statement sent to CNN, the London-based broadcaster said Elham “is not an employee of Iran International, nor is she an associate or agent of the company.”

His brother, Navid Afkari, was convicted of killing Hassan Torkman, a water company security employee, during a protest in Shiraz in 2018.

Fighter Navid Afkari was executed by the Iranian government on September 12, 2020.

Afkari initially confessed to the crime, but in court retracted these words, arguing that he had been tortured into making a false confession.

“It should be noted that she [Elham Afkari] she is the sister of Navid Afkari, the killer of martyr Torkman, an employee of the regional water company in Fars province,” IRNA reported.

“Intelligence agents have been monitoring the activities of Elham Afkari for the past few years,” IRNA said, adding that “he was one of the main leaders in organizing recent unrest.”

State media shared footage purportedly showing Elham’s arrest. The footage shows a woman sitting in the back seat of a vehicle with barred windows, with a black blindfold over her face.

Elham and Navid’s brother Saeed Afkari confirmed his sister’s arrest on Twitter on Thursday, saying Elham’s three-year-old daughter was also missing.

“My sister Elham Afkari was arrested in Shiraz and we have no news about her husband and three-year-old daughter Liana,” Saeed said. He later said that Elham has been taken to a department of Iran’s intelligence ministry.

Since Navid Afkari’s execution, his family has faced many court cases over their involvement in the 2018 protests.

Vahid Afkari, one of his brothers, remains in solitary confinement, according to the human rights group Iran Human Rights.

Founded in 2017, Iran International has been at the forefront of coverage of the recent protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman arrested by the moral police for not wearing the proper hijab.

However, the 24-hour news channel’s coverage of the demonstrations has brought it under the scrutiny of the Iranian government.

Iran International said this week that two of its British Iranian journalists working in the UK have been warned by police of a “credible” plot by Iran to kill them.

In a statement on Monday, the Farsi-language broadcaster said it was “surprised and deeply concerned” by the alleged death threats, while accusing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of being part of a ” significant and dangerous escalation’ of the ‘Tehran campaign’. to intimidate Iranian journalists working abroad.”

“In recent days, two of our British-Iranian journalists have been notified of an increase in threats against them,” Iran International said in the statement.

“The Metropolitan Police have formally notified the two journalists that these threats pose an imminent, credible and significant risk to their lives and those of their families.”

Iran International did not name the journalists for security reasons.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said at least 61 journalists had been arrested in Iran as of Monday for reasons including covering protests, reporting on the deaths of protesters and taking photos of demonstrations, according to a report by the organization.

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