U.S. President Donald Trump has called on Iran to reverse an execution sentence against a wrestler convicted of murder during anti-government protests in 2018.
“Hearing that Iran is looking to execute a great and popular wrestling star, 27-year-old Navid Afkarai, whose sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets. They were protesting the 'country’s worsening economic situation and inflation,'" Trump wrote in a September 3 Twitter post.
“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him. Thank you!” Trump continued.
Trump, who has a longtime relationship with professional wrestling, is the latest and most high-profile person to call for Iran not to execute Afkari. Dozens of Iranian athletes and international wrestlers have joined a campaign against the death sentence.
Afkari received two death sentences for allegedly killing a security agent during the 2018 anti-government protests in Shiraz.
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.
Human rights activists at home and abroad have denied he 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.
Relations between the United States and Iran have been tense since Trump in 2018 withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Tehran and reinstated crushing sanctions.
Trump Urges Iran Not To Execute Iranian Wrestler