In this file photo taken on February 6, 2022, Jamshid Sharmahd (left front), who is accused by the Iranian government of being a leader of the US-based "Tondar terrorist group" behind a deadly attack in Iran in 2008, attends the first hearing of his trial in Tehran. Image Credit: AFP

BERLIN: Germany said Wednesday that it is expelling two Iranian diplomats over the death sentence imposed in Iran against one of its citizens.

Authorities in Iran announced Tuesday that Jamshid Sharmahd, a 67-year-old Iranian-German national and US resident, was sentenced to death after being convicted of terrorist activities.

Iran claims Sharmahd is the leader of the armed wing of a group advocating the restoration of the monarchy that was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but his family say he was merely the spokesman for the opposition group and deny he was involved in any attacks.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in Berlin and informed him that “we will not accept this massive breach of a German citizen’s rights.”

“As a consequence the German government has declared two members of the Iranian embassy unwanted persons and asked them to leave Germany at short notice,” she said. “We demand that Iran revokes the death sentence against Jamshid Sharmahd and allows him to have an appeal that is fair and in line with the rule of law.”

Germany has said that Sharmahd, who lives in Glendora, California, did not have “even the beginning of a fair trial” and that consular access and access to the trial had been repeatedly denied. She also said he had been arrested “under highly questionable circumstances,” without elaborating.

The death sentence — which can be appealed — comes against the backdrop of months of anti-government protests in Iran and a fierce crackdown on dissent. Monarchists based outside Iran support the protests, as do other groups and individuals with different ideologies.

The official website of Iran’s judiciary said Sharmahd was convicted of plotting terrorist activities. He was tried in a Revolutionary Court, where proceedings are held behind closed doors and where rights groups say defendants are unable to choose their lawyers or see the evidence against them.

Iran summons British envoy over ‘threats’ allegations

Meanwhile, Iran has called in Britain’s envoy in Tehran to protest after London alleged Tehran had made “threats” to the lives of UK-based journalists, state media reported on Wednesday.

The tit-for-tat move came Tuesday as Iran’s charge d’affaires in London Mehdi Hosseini Matin was hauled in to hear a British protest over the alleged threats that forced Persian-language TV network Iran International to announce last week that it was relocating from London.

“Following the continued baseless accusations from England against the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mrs Isabelle Marsh, temporary chargee d’affaires of that country’s embassy in Tehran, was summoned to the foreign ministry on Tuesday,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran International announced on Saturday that it had been forced on UK police advice to shut down its London TV studios, and had switched to 24-hour broadcasting from Washington.

The station has provided extensive coverage of anti-government protests that erupted in Iran five months ago, and said two of its senior journalists received death threats in response to their reporting.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on Tuesday: “I am appalled by the Iranian regime’s continuing threats to the lives of UK-based journalists and have today summoned its representative to make clear this will not be tolerated.”

Iran’s foreign ministry said Cleverly’s comments were a continuation of Britain’s “Iranophobic policy” and called for an “end to this hostile approach”.

Iran’s relations with Britain were already at a low ebb following London’s response to the protests that erupted in September over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been accused of breaching Iran’s dress code for women.

Ties took a further blow last month when Iran executed dual national Alireza Akbari after convicting him of spying for Britain.