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Iranian-Swedish Former Leader Of Arab Separatist Group Goes On Trial In Iran


Habib Chaab was abducted during a visit to Turkey in October 2020. (file photo)

A Tehran court has kicked off the trial of an Iranian-Swedish dissident accused by Iran of being behind a string of attacks for an Arab separatist group, local media report.

The first hearing in Habib Chaab's trial was held on January 18 at Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court, the semiofficial ISNA news agency said.

According to the judiciary's Mizan Online agency, the defendant is accused of "managing and leading a terrorist group," as well as of "planning and carrying out numerous bombings and terrorist operations" in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.

Prosecutions in Iran's so-called Revolutionary Courts are frequently kept secret from defendants' families and even lawyers. Torture, mistreatment, and forced confessions are also common, according to rights groups.

Chaab, a founder and former leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA) separatist group, lived in Sweden for 14 years until he was apparently "lured" to Turkey by Iranian intelligence agents.

He went missing during a visit to Turkey in October 2020 and a month later appeared on Iranian state television.

In December 2020, Turkish authorities announced the arrest of 11 people suspected of spying and involvement in the alleged kidnapping of Chaab on behalf of Iran.

ASMLA, which has an armed branch and seeks a separate state for ethnic Arabs in oil-producing Khuzestan, is considered a terrorist group by Tehran.

The group has been blamed by Iran for a series attacks on government institutions, oil facilities, and other infrastructure over the years.

In the indictment, Chaab, also known as Habib Asyud, is accused of being behind a deadly 2018 terror attack on a military parade in Khuzestan's capital, Ahvaz, that left at least 25 dead, including civilians.

ASMLA is primarily based in the Netherlands and Denmark.

In April 2021, three of its leaders went on trial in Denmark on charges of financing and promoting terrorism in Iran with Saudi Arabia's backing.

In late October 2018, the Danish intelligence service accused the Iranian intelligence service of plotting to assassinate at least one of the three leaders of the group's Danish branch, which Tehran denied.

A Danish court in 2020 sentenced a Norwegian-Iranian to seven years for his role in the assassination plot.

In November 2017, a leader of ASMLA was shot dead in The Hague in an attack the Dutch government said was linked to Iran.

With reporting by AFP and ISNA
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