More than 300 civilians, academic figures, civil rights activists, and political personalities have demanded the release of Saman Pashaei, former Iranian and world wrestling champion, in an open letter addressed to the Prosecutor General of the Islamic Republic Judiciary.
The letter, a copy of which was sent to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN), states that the signatories know Dr Pashaei, a former national sports champion, sports trainer and university lecturer, well and that on this basis they testify that this athlete is “a scientific, social, concerned and dedicated individual for all and has always been concerned about his homeland and its people”.
The letter also mentions that despite the possibility of living in European and American countries, Pashaei “has chosen to live and reside in his homeland and city, preferring to live with his people and compatriots in all matters”.
The signatories of the letter conclude that Pashaei’s detention for more than 58 days by the security agencies is unjust and have called on the relevant authorities to create the conditions for his release and to uphold respect for his social, popular and academic contributions.
Security forces arrested Pashaei without a court order on 2 July at the entrance to Saqqez, Kurdistan Province.
On 7 September, Branch Four of the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office in Saqqez extended Pashaei’s temporary detention.
During this period, the athlete was allowed to receive two visits from his family at the Ministry of Intelligence detention centre in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province, in the presence of interrogators.
The athlete’s arrest coincided with a wave of arrests, including in the town of Saqqez, the birthplace of Jina Mahsa Amini, as the anniversary of the 2022 protests approaches.
Pashaei, who has a doctorate in physiology and is a professor of sports nutrition and physiology at Azad University in Saqqez, is a member of the American National Academy of Sports Medicine and a former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion.
Earlier, in response to Pashaei’s arrest, the International Olympic Committee said it was “closely monitoring the situation and reserves the right to take any action against the Islamic Republic until the Olympic Games”.