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IRGC court jails US-Iranian man, his wife due to their faith

IRGC court jails US-Iranian man, his wife due to their faith
Iran has sentenced an Iranian-US art dealer and his wife to prison under a little-used law that can target dual nationals, The Washington Post quoted a New York-based rights group as saying on Wednesday, alleging their faith and Western ties made them the target of hard-liners.

The convictions of Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssar, who are Zoroastrians, mark the latest case of Tehran imprisoning dual nationals and those with ties to the West after its nuclear deal with world powers.

Vafadari was sentenced to 27 years in prison, while Neyssar, who has permanent residency in the US, received a 16-year sentence.

The sentences have yet to be reported in Iran. Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two were reportedly arrested by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in July 2016. Little information has come out about their case since then, though some reports suggested they were detained for having parties where men and women mingled and alcohol was served. Zoroastrians, in theory, are allowed to have alcohol and aren’t subject to the Iranian Mullah's regime radical laws.

Early Wednesday, Vafadari said he was sentenced “last week” to prison by Judge Abolghassem Salavati of Tehran’s hard-line Revolutionary Court and also fined $243,000. Salavati is known for his tough sentences and has heard other politically charged cases.

Vafadari said he and his wife were sentenced under a law allowing for properties of dual nationals to be seized and sold at auction. He said his work in the art world “raised the suspicions” of the Guard’s intelligence unit.

“Fortunately, the initial, baseless security accusations that led to our arrest were dropped, but our gallery, office, warehouses, and home remained locked and our cars, computers, and documents were confiscated, followed by accusations and interrogations that indicated a deeper plot,” he added.

He continued that the sentences mean “my wife and me, and every one of you dual national Zoroastrians who returned to your country to invest in the homeland you love, are always going to be in danger of losing your assets and forced to leave the country.”

Zoroastrianism is a pre-Islamic ancient religion in Iran that is in theory protected under the Iranian constitution. However, its adherents can face discrimination in Iran, whose government is overseen by Shia clerics.
Last Modified: Wednesday، 31 January 2018 01:16 PM