Iran Executes Journalist Convicted Of Terrorism

08/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

CAIRO, Egypt — An Iranian journalist sentenced to death on terrorism charges has been executed in what a human rights group on Tuesday called a "state-sanctioned murder" carried out 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.

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 ran a charity focused on improving childhood education in Iran. The International Campaign said he was targeted because, as part of that work, he had criticized local government officials and called for their resignations.

"Mirnehad'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."

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

A second "member of the terrorist group," indentified as Abdolnasser Taheri, was executed along with Mirnehad, State-run Press TV quoted the the head of the government's Justice Office in Sistan-Baluchistan province, Ebrahim Hamidi, as saying. No details about Taheri were known.

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

Jundallah, 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-Qaida.

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 International Campaign.

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.