Iran executes two convicted of blasphemy

Judiciary says Youssef Mehrdad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare ran online groups promoting atheism

An anti-Iran protest in Berlin. Executions in Iran surged 75 per cent last year. EPA
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Iran executed two people convicted of blasphemy, the country's judiciary has said.

Youssef Mehrdad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare were hanged on Monday after they were found guilty of insulting Islam and the Prophet, the judiciary's Mizan news outlet.

Mr Mehrdad, from Ardabil city, led an “anti-Islamic" online group and was the main administrator of at least 15 groups “in the field of anti-Islamism, promoting atheism and insulting holy things", the judiciary said.

Mr Zare led online groups promoting atheism, the judiciary said. It said the men had used Iranian and French phone numbers for their online activity.

Iran executes more people than any other country except China. Executions in Iran surged 75 per cent last year.

It has hanged four men since December for participating in an anti-government protest movement triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in September.

The men were accused of murdering security guards at the forefront of the government clampdown on demonstrators.

Rights groups criticised Tehran for its speedy, closed-door court proceedings that have been denounced as sham trials.

Iran often hangs people convicted of drug and terror-related crimes and has come under fire for the execution of several prominent figures, including journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was lured back to Iran.

On Friday, it executed dual Swedish citizen Habib Chaab for “corruption on Earth", a charge that carries the death penalty and is often levelled against dual citizens and government critics.

He was the third dual citizen to have been sentenced to death or executed in Iran this year on security-related charges, according to the judiciary.

In January, Tehran executed Alireza Akbari, a former Iranian official with British citizenship who had been convicted of espionage.

In April, Iran's Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for German-Iranian Jamshid Sharmahd, 67, over his connection with a deadly mosque bombing in 2008.

Updated: May 08, 2023, 8:15 AM