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U.S. Republican Senator Ted Cruz has called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of an Iranian German dissident sentenced to death in Iran and called his treatment by authorities there “audacious and barbaric.”

Cruz spoke with VOA’s Persian Service about the case of Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian German dual citizen and opposition figure accused of masterminding a deadly 2008 bombing of a mosque in Shiraz. His family strongly denies the charges.

Cruz said the Biden administration should cancel any engagement with Tehran, and “the international community should demand that Ayatollah immediately release Sharmahd unconditionally.”

Earlier this year U.S. and Iranian officials concluded a deal in which five Americans who had been imprisoned in Iran were freed in exchange for five Iranians accused of violating U.S. sanctions, and the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue.

Speaking to VOA, Cruz criticized the administration for sending “billions of dollars in ramson to Iran.”

The funds that were unfrozen were designated for use only for Iranian humanitarian purposes, such as food, medicine and agricultural products.

Sharmahd, 68, had been living in the United States, where he served as the spokesperson for Tondar, a group that aims to restore the Western-backed monarchy that ruled Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. His family says Iranian authorities kidnapped Sharmahd during a stopover in Dubai in 2020. He faces the death penalty for “corruption on earth.”

In an interview with VOA, Ghazaleh Sharmahd, daughter of Jamshid Sharmahd, highlighted the increase of the number of executions in Iran, stating: “We are witnessing a surge in executions in Iran. In the past year alone, 834 people were executed. In January of this year, over 50 people were executed.”

Earlier, Ghazaleh Sharmahd mentioned her father’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease, expressing concern his health could deteriorate to the point of his life being at risk.

She also said last November that her father had endured solitary confinement for “over 1,185 days.”