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‘A really kind, good guy’: Teammate of Iranian footballer facing death penalty speaks out

Sky News has learned that Amir Nasr Azadani’s former teammate and Iranian footballer is facing the death penalty after participating in nationwide protests. He said to Sky News that his friend was a “shy person”, “really kind” and “really nice”.

Sebastian Strandvall, who is now the captain of Finland’s top flight side VPS Vaasa said that Amir was one the younger guys on the team. He was between 19 and 20 years old, shy, kind, and a good guy.

26-year-old Nasr-Azadani was taken into custody last month during anti-regime demonstrations that swept across Iran. In a trial that human right groups called a sham, he was convicted for murdering a policeman as well as two members of his militia.

Image Amir Nasr Azadani

Local news reports claim that he confessed to it after being coerced by members of his family who ordered him to remain silent.

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He claims that his former teammate, Nasr-Azadani, was wrongly found guilty of “waging a war against God”. This crime can have many possible consequences, including execution.

“Knowing Amir’s character, he would attend a protest… He and his friends would stand up for basic human rights for women. Because he cares about others, Strandvall stated that he doesn’t see Amir waging war against God or any other entity.

They played together at Rah-Ahan FC, Tehran in 2015-16. Strandvall offered Strandvall a place to sleep when the young Iranian was without accommodation.

Learn more about Iran


“It feels so far away from reality”

According to the Finnish player, his friend might have taken part in the demonstrations, but he doesn’t believe he would be involved in a violent act.

He said, “It’s hard to describe the feeling. It is difficult to comprehend the shock. It is difficult to believe that it is him.”

Image Sebastian Strandvall, (centre), and Amir Nasr–Azadani training

Although little is known about Nasr Azadani’s situation, one German MP is trying to bring attention to his plight.

Andreas Larem who assumed sponsorship of Nasr-Azadani’s 15th December broadcast to Sky News that he had written to the Iranian ambassador in Berlin and asked for assistance from the German Foreign Ministry to release Nasr-Azadani.

“He should still have hope. He should know that we stand by him, that we force every side to get him out, that his friends are also in prison get out, that I would like to meet him in Germany.


Protests can be a ‘nationwide phenomenon’

The streets are being challenged by the Iranian clerics, and their forces are becoming more violent in an effort to save the regime.

Protests in Iran, which are ongoing on a daily basis and have shown little sign of slowing down, now enter their fourth month. While the majority of protests in Iran are concentrated in the Kurdish region and capital Tehran, they are widespread.

Participants are motivated by a variety of grievances including the strict restrictions on women’s dress. They want to see the country’s supreme leadership, Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Khamenei, and the aged mullahs who back him, removed.

Police units and revolutionary guards (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), have reacted to those who resist the state.

Demonstrators were beaten with shotguns and attacked by police. In recent days, the government began to execute demonstrators.


Trials are a sham

Majidreza Rahnavard was 23 years old and was last week publicly hanged at the end of a crane. Rahnavard, who allegedly stabbed two pro-government militia members to death, was accused of “waging warfare against God”.

The trial was called a sham by western governments and human rights groups.

Amnesty International says that there are over two dozen protesters who face the death penalty.

Analysts accuse the regime, as the police fight to contain the rebellion among youth, of targeting individuals like actors, footballers, and writers – anyone who has the ability to influence others.

Image: Taraneh Alidoosti

Taraneh Alidoosti , Iran’s most famous actress, was arrested last week , after she condemned the use of the death penalty for protesters.

The role of the 38-year old is most well-known for her performance in 2016’s Oscar-winning film The Salesman.

Despite her international fame, she has pledged to stay in Iran.

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