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Iran Broadcasts Wrestler's Purported Murder Confession

Navid Afkari (file photo)

Iran has broadcast the purported confession of a wrestler whose execution sentence has been condemned by rights groups and criticized by U.S. President Donald Trump.

State television on September 6 broadcast video of Navid Afkari saying he stabbed a man, and showed confessions purportedly written by the 27-year-old wrestler. However, in a recording circulating on social media, Afkari has said his confession was coerced.

Afkari was sentenced to death for committing a murder during mass anti-government protests in 2018, and the airing of his purported confession came just days after Trump intervened on the wrestler's behalf.

In a September 3 tweet, Trump called for Iran to reverse the death sentence imposed after Afkari's conviction of murdering a man in the southern city of Shiraz amid the protests was upheld.

Human rights activists at home and abroad have denied that Afkari committed the crime and say that his confession was obtained under torture. His two brothers also received sentences of 54 and 27 years, as well as 74 lashes each.

Dozens of Iranian athletes and international wrestlers have joined a campaign against the death sentence.

Iranian state-linked news agency Mizan Online reported on August 31 that the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the wrestler’s death sentence in an August 15 ruling.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters