The ex-wife of an Iranian-Swedish dissident who is on trial in Iran says she is worried that he will not get a fair trial on charges of terrorism that she believes have been trumped.
Iranian authorities have accused Habib Chaab, a founder and former leader of the separatist group Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), of “leading and leading a terrorist group”, as well as of “planning and carrying out a large number of bombings and terrorist operations in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
Chaab lived in Sweden for 14 years until he was apparently “attracted” to Turkey by Iranian intelligence agents. He disappeared during a visit to Turkey in October 2020 and appeared a month later in a video on Iranian state television in which he claimed responsibility for launching an attack and working with Saudi intelligence.
The indictment accuses Chaab, also known as Habib Asyud, of being behind a deadly terrorist attack in 2018 against a military parade in Khuzestan’s capital, Ahvaz, that left at least 25 dead, including civilians.
The first hearing of his trial was held on January 18 in the branch of the Court of Revolution 26.
‘We know that when [Chaab] said on TV: “We congratulate him on the operation”, that it does not mean he did it. But [Iranian authorities] uses it as an excuse and claims he knew about it, his ex-wife, Hoda Havashemi, told RFE / RL, adding that she did not believe he was involved in the incident.
Havashemi said that the Swedish authorities had not been given access to Chaab. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship.
Havashemi also said that it was still not clear why Chaab decided to travel to Turkey.
ASMLA, which has an armed branch and is seeking a separate state for ethnic Arabs in oil-producing Khuzestan, is considered a terrorist group by Tehran. The group has been blamed by Iran for a series of attacks on government institutions, oil facilities and other infrastructure over the years.
ASMLA is mainly based in the Netherlands and Denmark.
In April 2021, three of its leaders were brought to justice in Denmark accused of financing and promoting terrorism in Iran with the support of Saudi Arabia.
In late October 2018, the Danish intelligence service accused the Iranian intelligence service of planning to assassinate at least one of the three leaders of the group’s Danish branch, which Tehran denied.
In 2020, a Danish court sentenced a Norwegian-Iranian to seven years in prison for his role in the murder plot.
In November 2017, a leader of ASMLA was shot dead in The Hague in an attack that the Dutch government said was linked to Iran.
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE / RL, Inc. Reprinted with permission from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036
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