Iran's brutal new 'finger-chopping machine'

Unsettling photos appear to show the new device being used on a convicted thief

A blindfolded convicted thief prepares to have four of his fingers amputated on Jan. 24.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Mohsen Tavarro)

Wrenching new photos from Iran appear to show a thief having four of his fingers severed by a "finger-chopping machine." (See the disturbing photos here.) The court-ordered public amputation reportedly took place on Jan. 24 in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz after the 29-year-old man was convicted of burglary and adultery. In the photos, the prisoner is blindfolded and surrounded by three masked officials who hold his hand under the device. His face shows no pain, indicating that perhaps he was drugged before the procedure.

Following the amputation, a public prosecutor announced that criminal punishments like these would become more severe. Some observers suspect that with the country's general elections quickly approaching in June, threats like these are being used as a way to deter public unrest. "Every time we get closer to an election, the number of these incidents increases," says Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam, a spokesperson for Iran Human Rights in Norway. "I believe this is a strategy to instill fear in the population so as to avoid any protests."

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Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a writer and former deputy editor of The Week Digital. Originally from the American Midwest, she completed a degree in journalism at Indiana University Bloomington before relocating to New York City, where she pursued a career in media. After joining The Week as an intern in 2010, she served as the title’s audience development manager, senior editor and deputy editor, as well as a regular guest on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. Her writing has featured in other publications including Popular Science, Fast Company, Fortune, and Self magazine, and she loves covering science and climate-related issues.