Dana White Asks Iranian Government Not to Execute Wrestler Navid Afkari in Video

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2019, file photo, UFC President Dana White speaks at a news conference in New York. UFC 249 has been canceled after ESPN and parent company Disney stopped White's plan to keep fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic. After defiantly vowing for weeks to maintain a regular schedule of fights, White announced the decision to cease competition Thursday, April 9, on ESPN, the UFC's broadcast partner. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan, File)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

UFC President Dana White posted a video Thursday night urging the government of Iran to overturn a double death sentence given to wrestler Navid Afkari for protesting the regime's economic policies in 2018.

TMZ Sports reported Tuesday that Afkari and his two brothers faced more than 20 charges, including "attending illegal gatherings, assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and insulting the supreme leader."

They were all found guilty. Afkari's brothers received long prison terms, but he was sentenced to death in addition to the 74 lashes also ordered to his siblings, per TMZ.

White said in the Instagram video he "respectfully, humbly asks the government officials in Iran to please not execute this man and spare his life."

The UFC president also explained he reached out to United States President Donald Trump, who posted messages on Twitter asking the Iranian government to reverse the decision:

Bahie Namju, the brothers' mother, also posted a video saying her sons received an "unjust court hearing full of lies."

No execution date has been publicly announced.