Swedish lawyer: Iran's fear tactics make our voices stronger

Engineer, singers and medics claim they have been intimidated in efforts to silence them

People protest outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm over the death Mahsa Amini in Tehran. AFP
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A Swedish-Iranian lawyer has revealed the intimidatory tactics of the Iranian regime to silence its critics abroad, issuing a message of defiance in the process.

He is among a group of professionals to speak out after being targeted by Iran.

The Iranian dual citizens, who live in Sweden, told The National they had been targeted in letters, phone calls and on social media by “agents of the Iranian regime”.

They say they and their families have been threatened in a bid to silence them to prevent them from criticising Iran’s regime.

Lawyer Kiarash Kiani and 11 others published an open letter in Swedish newspaper Expressen to highlight the threats they have faced.

"The Swedish Security Service has declared, year after year, in their public yearbook that the Iranian regime’s acquisition intelligence has recently been shifted to concrete attempts, with all types of methods being used, to block opposition activities," Mr Kiani told The National.

"Some of us have received threats via social media, letters and phone calls in both Farsi and Swedish from agents of the Iranian regime.

"Threats with the message: we know who you and your family are and we are watching you.

"They try to silence us with fear but that will only make our voices louder and stronger! We want to send a message to the people of Iran; we will not let you down and we will always be your voice!

"Finally, we also want to point out how the Iranian regime operates in the West in various ways to silence the opposition but also get decision-making politicians to follow a line that favours the Iranian regime. This is done through, among other things, extensive lobbying."

Thousands of people have been arrested in Iran in recent weeks after protests over the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.

On Monday, the regime announced the first death sentence over the protests that have shaken the country's clerical leadership, the judiciary said.

In Sweden, the group of professionals, including musician and occupational therapist Aida Jabbari, consultant Zoha Saket, civil engineer Reza Khansari and doctor Mahia Aivaz, published the open letter on Saturday.

"The Iranian regime threatens, harasses and tries to intimidate us into silence," they wrote.

"Iran should be boycotted — it is about Sweden's security too. Those of us who have experienced the Iranian regime's presence in Sweden think it is highly relevant to turn our attention to the regime's activities in Sweden. This is a real threat to us in the opposition and to Sweden's democracy.

"Some of us have received threatening calls from Iran. This not infrequently happens after one has expressed themselves critically against the Iranian regime through statements or participation in demonstrations.

"We have also received hate messages with coarse content, the purpose of which is to offend and intimidate us into silence and passivity.

"Other pressures we have experienced are the Iranian regime threatening our family in Iran, taking them in for police questioning and, in the worst case, imprisoning them. The goal of this is to achieve a culture of silence, both among the diaspora and in the Swedish media.

"All of the regime's crimes are aimed at eliminating the resistance and silencing its opposition. But its not working. We see daily brave Iranians who, through heroic acts, stand up against the oppressive regime on all fronts. We stand up for our freedom together. We refuse to be silenced."

In June, Charlotte von Essen, head of the Swedish Security Service, said Iran was one of Sweden's "main threats".

"Hostile states continue to carry out frequent cyber activities, in the form of active cyber reconnaissance, against several targets in Sweden," she said.

"Swedish society and values are being challenged daily, as hostile states and violent extremists try to destabilise democracy through pressure, influence operations, disinformation, strategic acquisitions, espionage and physical attacks. To help create resilience, efforts are needed across society to lay the foundations for a more secure Sweden."

Updated: November 14, 2022, 3:38 PM