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Iran: Death Row Political Prisoner, Arsalan Khodkam Appeals for a Fair Retrial

15 Dec 20
Iran: Death Row Political Prisoner, Arsalan Khodkam Appeals for a Fair Retrial

Iran Human Rights (IHR); December 15, 2020: In an open letter to the head of the judiciary, political prisoner Arsalan Khodkam says his convictions are trumped-up charges and asked for his case to be re-examined. The death sentence against Arsalan, who is currently held in Urmia Central Prison on “espionage for dissident groups” charges, was upheld by the Supreme Court.

According to Iran Human Rights, Arsalan Khodkam, a Mahabad native, is married with a 16 year-old son. He joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the 1990s. After 16 years in the IRGC, Arsalan was arrested in March 2018 for his links to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), while on duty in Oshnavieh. He is accused of being a KDP agent in the IRGC.

 

Arsalan was tried by the Urmia Revolutionary Court over the course of six sessions without a verdict and his case was referred to the Urmia Military Court. The Court sentenced Arsalan to death in mid-August 2018, which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court.

 

Arsalan was denied access to the lawyer of his choice and due process throughout his sentencing and appeal process. Those close to Arsalan have previously told IHR that he was tortured and pressured to force a false confession in prison.

 

In an open letter to Ebrahim Raeisi, the head of the judiciary, the political prisoner explains his case and charges and requests a retrial without the influence and pressure from security forces.

 

The full text of his letter is as follows:

 

The honourable President of the Judiciary, with greetings,

 

Respectfully, I write out of necessity and specifically to enlighten your Highness as to the undermentioned request and ask for your opinion.

 

I, Arsalan Khodkam, 47 years old and the son of Khaled, with case number 25 9700, sentenced to the maximum punishment, the death penalty, for spying for the “Kurdish Democratic Party” by Branch One of the Urmia Military Court, which I appealed after sentencing but the verdict issued by the Branch 32 of the Supreme Court judges was compromised due to pressure and interference from the IRGC Intelligence (Organisation).

 

Needless to say, this process was repeated several times, that is, the verdict against myself was upheld three times by different branches of the Supreme Court due to the pressure from the aforementioned security institution.

 

Dear Mr Raesi: following my arrest in the Al-Mehdi military base in Urmia, I was pressured to force a confession for 36 days and was kept in solitary confinement without access to my family and lawyer. Throughout my time in the IRGC, I have never taken up arms against the government, nor taken any action against national security, I have not killed anyone or broken the law. In fact, I have been commended 17 times by the division commanders and the operations commanders, but unfortunately, the senior guards at Al-Mehdi tore up all my letters of commendation.

 

For 16 years, I served in the IRGC as a special unit force in the most difficult to reach locations in the Qandil Mountains on the Kurdish border with Iraq and Turkey. Due to the nature and location of my posts, at no time did I have access to any classified information or classifications, nor have I provided any information to Kurdish parties or intelligence agencies.

 

Unfortunately, by building a false case against me and baseless accusations, officers of the IRGC Intelligence Organisation took my case in their own desired direction to ensure my defence would be ineffective in every way, so they could make a bigger win, which they achieved and the puppet masters forced them to sentence me to death.

 

Honourable President: Like many online and on Instagram on particular, I shared photos of myself in my military uniform on my personal page, which led some to use it against me. In this regard, an unknown individual expressed interest in me and though we chatted a few times (internet chat), I did not know her or know which group she had links to, but after a while, she revealed her true identity and I immediately cut all contact with her and even sold my phone and sim card after realising her intentions. Unfortunately, three months after selling my phone and changing my number, IRGC Intelligence agents arrested me while I was on duty on allegations of spying for the “Kurdistan Democratic Party.” I have been locked up in Urmia Central Prison since 22 April 2018, after the investigation was completed, the case built and the judicial process concluded. During the aforementioned period, the military prosecutor of Urmia has independently sent the Amnesty Commission and relevant authorities several requests for my amnesty and pardon, but so far, my case has remained unchanged.

 

I am not guilty and I did not commit any of the crimes in this case, I have been set up and sentenced to death for espionage.

 

Thus, given the exceptional circumstances, I urge you as the head of the judiciary, to approve my request for a retrial and a fair trial, without any influence and pressure from intelligence and security forces and to issue

 the necessary orders in this regard.

 

With respect,

 

Arsalan Khodkam, son of Khaled