Iran Executes Journalist on Terrorism Charges After Secret Trial

An Iranian journalist sentenced to death on terrorism charges has been executed in what a human rights group on Tuesday called "state-sanctioned murder" after a secret trial.

Yaghoob Mirnehad was executed Monday in the city of Zahedan after being convicted and sentenced to death earlier this year, said Iran's judiciary spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi.

Iran accused Mirnehad of being involved in the armed Jundallah group, which operates along the Iranian-Pakistani border. Authorities said he set up a group to "cooperate" with Jundallah.

But a New York-based rights group, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said Iranian prosecutors held a secret trial and provided no evidence of Mirnehad's links with Jundallah or involvement in any armed attacks.

In addition to writing for a Tehran-based daily newspaper, Mirnehad also ran a charity focused on improving childhood education in Iran. He was targeted because as part of that work, he had criticized local government officials and called for their resignations, the group said Tuesday.


s prosecution and trial were a farce," the group's coordinator, Hadi Ghaemi, said in a statement. "State-sanctioned murder of a civilian without evidence of any crime, but justified on the basis of being a 'terrorist' is a form of terrorism itself," he said.

Mirnehad was arrested in May 2007 in Zahedan, the provincial capital of the Sistan-Baluchistan province about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) southeast of Tehran.

Jamshidi said Mirnehad's conviction was not related to his job, but he gave no other details.

State-run Press TV reported on its web Site that another alleged member of Jandallah has been executed along with Mirnehad.

The report quoted the head of the government's Justice Office in the province, Ebrahim Hamidi, as saying that "two members of the terrorist group were executed" and identified them as Mirnehad and Abdolnasser Taheri.

No details about Taheri were known.

The Jundallah group, or God's Brigade, has launched attacks against Iranian soldiers and police in the area near Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is a key crossing point for narcotics. The Iranian government accuses the group of having links to Al Qaeda.

The group's leader, Abdulmalak Rigi, who is a member of Iran's ethnic Baluchi minority, claims his group is fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims under Iran's Shiite government.

Jamshidi has not specified Mirnehad's alleged role in the group.

Taking up arms against the government is considered a crime punishable by death in Iran. The country has executed nearly 200 people so far this year, according to the rights group.

After China, Iran executes more people than any other country, even though its population is 18 times smaller than China's, the group said Tuesday.