Iran executes 2 over blasphemy charges
The two defendants were found guilty of conducting online activities insulting Islam. Executions in Iran have significantly increased since last year, with nationwide protests in the country.
Iran has executed two men after trying them and finding them guilty of blasphemy, the supposed crime of insulting a religion or deity, the judiciary announced on Monday.
Yousef Mehrdad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare were executed by hanging for crimes including blasphemy, insulting the religion of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and other "sanctities," the judiciary's Mizan website reported.
What do we know about the charges?
In a long statement, the judiciary said the duo ran various online anti-religion platforms dedicated to what it described as insulting Islam and its sanctities and promoting atheism.
It claimed that one of the accused confessed in March 2021 to publishing the content. Such confessions are believed to be forced under duress, as per rights groups based outside Iran.
Iran's record of executions
Iran is among the world's most prolific users of the death penalty, thought to be second only to China last year.
Two rights groups said in a report last month that Iranian authorities executed 582 individuals last year, a 75% increase from 2021.
The Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) said in April they had also counted 151 executions so far this year.
Iran witnessed mass protests starting in September 2022 which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old ethnic Kurd Jina Mahsa Amini, who died while in police custody. The demonstrations were met with a crackdown by authorities and some death sentences linked to the protests have already been meted out.
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