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Despite calls for clemency and suspicions of false accusations, Iran executes 27-year-old wrestler

Despite international calls for clemency, Iranian state news media on Saturday reported the state execution of Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old wrestler, at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz. Afkari was accused of fatally stabbing a water supply company employee during a 2018 antigovernment protest in Shiraz. His case received attention across the globe, with President Trump and international sports groups among those calling on Tehran to spare his life.

Iran broadcast his confession last week, but The New York Times reports Afkari can be heard on an audio tape smuggled from prison saying that he had been tortured until he falsely confessed. Indeed, the televised segment resembled many other suspected coerced confessions aired over the last several years in Iran, The Associated Press reports.

Per the Times, Afkari was not well-known in Iran before his arrest — which came a few days after he and two brothers (both of whom have been sentenced to decades in prison) demonstrated in Shiraz — but his supporters say he may have been used as an example by the government to silence dissent because of wrestling’s popularity in the country. Read more at The New York Times and The Associated Press.

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