Tehran has arrested—and potentially plans to execute—Iranian Paralympian Reza Tabrizi for his criticism of the country's Islamist regime, the Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.
Tabrizi, a silver-winning powerlifter in New Zealand's 2011 Paralympics championship, wrote on Instagram that he did not understand why Iran has opened Mashad's Imam Reza Shrine amid the coronavirus pandemic yet has refused to open the city's gyms. In the post, he called the decision "hypocritical."
Soon after Tabrizi's post, Iranian authorities picked up the athlete. Video from an Iranian human-rights advocate shows that authorities treated him roughly and that Tabrizi, who uses a wheelchair, struggled to walk towards the police car.
Iranian regime cleric Morteza Mustafazadeh led the charge to arrest Tabrizi for his post.
"This guy had posted a threatening insult on his Instagram account and thought that in the country ruled by our religious beliefs he could do any damn thing that he wants," Mustafazadeh said. "Thanks be to God he is now behind bars."
He is now pressing the regime to execute the bodybuilder.
Tabrizi has publicly apologized for posting his thoughts, according to the U.K. Telegraph.
"I apologize to all my friends and fans and hereby state that the love of our religious saints runs in the blood of my family and if as a result of a moment of negligence I have hurt your feelings I do sincerely apologize and ask for your forgiveness," he said.
Tabrizi's abduction and subsequent apology recall the case of Navid Afkari earlier this summer. After rounds of torture and beatings from Iranian authorities, Afkari, an Olympic wrestler, falsely confessed to allegations that he had murdered a security guard during anti-regime protests.
Despite the Trump administration's efforts to negotiate for Afkari's release, the regime executed him in September.