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Iranian-Swedish dissident to face trial in Iran for allegedly carrying out bombings

After disappearing during a visit to Turkey in October last year, Habib Chaab resurfaced in Tehran ‘confessing’ to 2018 attack on military parade

Habib Chaab is seen on Iranian state TV  in November 2020, confessing to an attack on a military parade two years earlier. (Video screenshot)
Habib Chaab is seen on Iranian state TV in November 2020, confessing to an attack on a military parade two years earlier. (Video screenshot)

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian-Swedish dissident held in Iran for over a year will face trial accused of carrying out “bomb attacks” for an Arab separatist group, said a charge sheet published Sunday.

Habib Chaab had disappeared during a visit to Turkey in October 2020 and a month later appeared in a video broadcast by Iran state television in which he confessed to robbery and working with Saudi intelligence services.

Iran accuses him of having led a “terrorist group called ASMLA,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online agency said, referring to an Arab separatist group.

ASMLA, or the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, is designated as a terrorist group by Iran.

Chaab is also accused of “planning and carrying out a number of terrorist acts, including bomb attacks in Khuzestan province, and of destroying public property,” Mizan Online said.

The oil-rich southwestern province has a large Arab minority that has regularly complained of being marginalized.

A date for the trial was not provided.

In the video broadcast by state television in Iran in November 2020, Chaab had also claimed responsibility for an attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz two years earlier that killed at least 29 people.

People attend a mass funeral for those who died in Saturday’s attack on a military parade in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, that killed 25 people, in Ahvaz, Iran, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Such videos are common in Iran and are frequently condemned by rights groups arguing that confessions are often forced and the result of torture.

In December 2020, Turkish authorities announced the arrest of 11 people suspected of espionage and alleged that they had abducted Chaab on behalf of Iran.

That same month Stockholm complained that it had not been granted consular access to Chaab, who had been living in exile in Sweden where he received citizenship.

In 2017, Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali, a resident of Sweden, was sentenced to death by hanging after he was accused of spying for Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

The verdict, a year after his arrest during a visit to Tehran, was postponed with his family saying that Djalali, who was granted Swedish citizenship while in jail in Iran, remains on death row.

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