IRGC commander Hossein Salami (right) and Quds force commander Esmail Qaani

Criminal Complaint Filed In France Against Senior Iranian Officials

Friday, 09/15/2023

A rare criminal complaint was filed with Paris prosecutors on Thursday, targeting three senior Iranian officials from the regime's security apparatus.

The accusation against IRGC commander Hossein Salami, Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib, and Quds force commander Esmail Qaani includes "death threats and justifying terrorism."

The six plaintiffs in the case are all exiled Iranians who have been living in France since the 1980s, and include a filmmaker, a journalist, a writer, and an LGBTQ+ rights activist. They have all taken public stances against Tehran, and their complaint, while largely symbolic, coincides with the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death last September, which sparked the Woman Life Freedom movement in Iran.

The threats were made in response to support for nationwide protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody of the morality police. One such threat came from Khatib on December 13, where he warned that "anyone playing a role in the riots will be punished, wherever they are in the world."

Additionally, on January 10, Salami himself made a statement regarding "the French people and the managers of [satirical anti-clerical magazine] Charlie Hebdo," suggesting they shouldn't concern themselves with Salman Rushdie's fate. This statement related to the fatwa against Rushdie issued by Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Charlie Hebdo staff had previously been targeted by jihadist gunmen in 2015 for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Chirinne Ardakani, a French-Iranian lawyer from the Iran Justice Collective, characterized these threats as "disguised fatwas" against Iranian opposition activists worldwide.

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