Former Iranian soccer player Nasr Azadani sentenced to 26 years in prison

The athlete was facing a death sentence for his participation in protests against the Islamist regime. Three other protesters will be executed.

Former Iranian footballer Amir Nasr Azadani, who was at risk of being sentenced to death for his participation in protests against the Ayatollah regime, was ultimately sentenced to 26 years in prison. His case raised worldwide attention, with the FifPro players' union, numerous fellow athletes, human rights activists and political leaders calling for Azadini's release.

The fear that Azadani would be executed by hanging was a very real possibility. In fact, three of the five others accused of the same crime as Azadani have been sentenced to capital punishment by a revolutionary court, reports Iranian news agency Mizan. According to the authorities, the former soccer player and the other protesters who were tried with him were accused of murdering ("martyring," according to the court order) three security guards during anti-regime protests over the death of Mahsa Amini.

"Enemy of God"

In the case of the former soccer player, the conviction was: Nasr Azadani, son of Mohamma, for the charge of membership in an illegal group with intent to disrupt the security of the country, five years' imprisonment, on the charge of meeting and collusion for committing crimes against security, five years imprisonment, and for the charge of being "Moharebe" (enemy of God), 16. He was sentenced to hard labor.

The three judges presiding over the trial categorized the events as a "terrorist attack." According to the prosecution, Azadani and the five others carried out the attack "in a coordinated manner" and opened fire on the guards and the people around them. In addition to the three deceased, other guards were injured to varying degrees.