The State Department acknowledged that it had advance knowledge of the execution of a dual Iranian-American citizen by Iran last month, the Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday.
The organization Iran Human Rights, citing “confirmed sources,” disclosed that Iranian authorities hanged Hamid Samiee on November 4 for the alleged murder of an Iranian man identified as Behrouz Janmohammadi in California. Samiee has been imprisoned in Iran since 2008.
An unnamed State Department official told the Free Beacon that the department had been informed of Samiee’s impending execution in late October, saying, “This case was brought to our attention on October 28, immediately after the Foreign Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran was notified of Mr. Samiei’s impending execution.” The source added, “We are not aware of any notification to the Department of State or the Swiss Foreign Interests Section of Mr. Samiei’s arrest, sentencing, or imprisonment prior to October 28. Iran does not recognize dual nationality.”
During a press briefing later on Tuesday, State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said that the administration requested a stay of execution through the Swiss Embassy but the Iranian government did not respond. When pressed as to whether Iran’s failure to respond to the request indicated that Tehran would not work with Washington in the wake of the nuclear deal, Toner rejected the suggestion as “a completely unrelated issue.”
According to reports, Samiee and Janmohammadi were friends who got into an altercation during an argument. Janmohammadi allegedly pulled a knife on Samiee, and the latter killed him in self-defense. Samiee subsequently made his way to Iran, where he was arrested after a few months when Janmohammadi’s relatives reported him to authorities. According to Iran Human Rights, Samiee was tortured until he confessed to the crime. Officials refused to accept his claim of self-defense.
The news of the execution of an American national by Iran comes amid reports that the Obama administration won’t press Tehran to divulge all the details of its past illicit nuclear work.
The increasing rate of executions in Iran under President Hassan Rouhani has prompted Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran, to raise concerns about the regime’s “unprecedented assault on the right to life.” The justice minister appointed by Rouhani, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, is known as the “Minister of Murder” for his role in thousands of summary executions, including of political figures and intellectuals, in the 1980’s.
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