A dissident who claims he was tortured by Iran demanded the release of imprisoned British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as he was convicted of trying to torch a diplomatic car outside the Iranian Embassy.
IT professional Sam Parsa, 60, was accused of planting a bottle of petrol along with a scarf into the exhaust pipe of a BMW parked outside the offices in Knightsbridge, central London.
The Iranian said he was tortured for nearly eight years during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, before being released and fleeing the country by secretly crossing the Turkish border. Parsa then sought asylum in the UK.
He was caught on CCTV strolling through Hyde Park before crouching down next to the vehicle’s bumper in Princes Gate shortly before 5am on September 5, 2018.
If the engine was turned on it could have caused the liquid to ignite but the device was spotted poking out of the exhaust by two contractors, Mario Muller and Yasir Iqbal.
Though Parsa claimed he was framed by the Iranian government, he was convicted of attempted arson with intent to endanger life after one hour and 55 minutes of jury deliberations.
He shook his head in the dock and insisted ‘I am not guilty’ before ranting from the dock about jailed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, who is accused by the Iranian regime of plotting to topple it.
IT professional Sam Parsa, 60, was accused of planting a bottle of petrol along with a scarf into the exhaust pipe of a BMW parked outside the offices in Knightsbridge, central London
The Iranian said he was not guilty before demanding the release of British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is accused by the Iranian government of plotting to topple it
‘Are you happy guys, are you happy framing me with your shambolic case?,’ Parsa said. ‘Can you free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe now?
‘I am proud of my Britishness, I hope you are tonight.You are going to think about this for a long, long time.’
Judge Mark Dennis QC ordered psychiatric reports and remanded him in custody ahead of sentencing on January 25.
The court heard he has been sectioned briefly before and has been diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD.
Data obtained from Parsa’s phone shows it was commonly used in the area of Seven Sisters, where he lived, and connected to cell towers near Hyde Park.
It then travelled to near the Iranian embassy around 5am, later moving from Kensington to Seven Sisters early in the morning of September 5.
He then took the phone to Luton Airport for a 6.30am flight to visit his family in France.
Police searched Parsa’s home over two days on November 20, 2018, finding tracksuit bottoms similar to the pair worn by him at the Embassy.
Material on his laptop and USB memory stick was also captured which showed his apparent ‘opposition to the Iranian regime’.
Though Parsa claimed he was framed by the Iranian regime, he was convicted of attempted arson with intent to endanger life after one hour and 55 minutes of jury deliberations
The IT professional made three recorded phone calls to an American radio show hosted by Saeed Ghaemmaghami criticising the politics of his native country.
Parsa branded the regime ‘rotten and fossilised’ and urged listeners to mobilise against the ‘fascist’ government.
The bespectacled former soldier called himself an ‘ex-political prisoner’ and called for the host to speak to President Donald Trump and other global leaders who ‘have a hand in this fire and blood.’
Parsa, formerly of High Road, Tottenham, claimed the Iranian government planted his DNA on the bottle’s opening while falsifying CCTV and phone data linking him to the crime scene.
But the jury unanimously convicted Parsa of attempted arson with intent to endanger life.
Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: ‘I am pleased with this conviction; Sam Parsa carried out a very reckless act which could have endangered lives.
‘Thanks to the thorough investigation of detectives, we swiftly identified Parsa as the culprit and seized the vital evidence which proved he was at the scene.
‘I would also like to praise the vigilance of the member of public who spotted the dangerous bottle in the car’s exhaust pipe and instantly informed police, enabling us to quickly resolve a potentially dangerous situation.
‘Police also rely on information from the public and I urge everyone to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious at all to police.’