Iran expels two German diplomats in tit-for-tat move

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Iran ordered the expulsion of two German diplomats Wednesday in a tit-for-tat move after Berlin took similar action in response to a death sentence handed down against a dual national.

Foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said the two diplomats had been ordered out in response to “interference... by the German government in the internal and judicial affairs” of Iran.

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Germany announced last week that it was expelling two Iranian diplomats in response to the death sentence handed down against dual national Jamshid Sharmahd, who is also a US resident.

“The Iranian regime is fighting its own people in every way possible and shows no respect for human rights,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at the time.

Germany criticized Iran’s retaliatory move on Wednesday.

“Their expulsion is arbitrary and unjustified, they have done nothing wrong,” a foreign ministry spokesman in Berlin said.

Sharmahd, 67, had been convicted of playing a role in a 2008 mosque bombing in the southern city of Shiraz, which killed 14 people and wounded 300.

His family has rejected the charges in the strongest terms and asked Berlin to “act immediately” to save “his life.”

Iranian courts do not recognize dual citizenship.

The judiciary said Sharmahd had planned to commit 23 “terrorist” acts, of which he succeeded in five.

Prosecutors charged that he had established contact with “FBI and CIA officers” and had “attempted to contact Israeli Mossad agents.”

He is accused of leading the Tondar group that aims to topple the Islamic Republic and is outlawed as a “terrorist” organization by the government.

Iran is holding at least 17 Western citizens, most of them dual nationals, including Sharmahd.

Human rights groups say they are part of a policy of hostage-taking by Iran to extract concessions from foreign governments.

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