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Dutch freeze contacts with Iran after execution

The Dutch government said it was freezing contacts with Iran after the hanging of an Iranian-Dutch woman. The woman was executed for drug smuggling after initially being arrested for taking part in protests in 2009.

A protester in Iran in 2009

The disputed 2009 reelection of President Ahmadinejad sparked huge street protests in Iran

The Netherlands says it is cutting off contacts with Iran in the wake of the hanging of an Iranian-Dutch woman in the Islamic republic which the Hague decried as an "act committed by a barbarous regime."

The freeze concerns all official contacts between diplomats and civil servants, said foreign ministry spokesman Bengt van Loosdrecht.

Iran hanged the woman for selling and possessing drugs, ignoring pleas by the Netherlands which had sought details about the case.

Dutch-Iranian Zahra Bahrami

Bahrami was born in Iran but later acquired Dutch citizenship

"A woman smuggler named Zahra Bahrami, daughter of Ali, has been hanged today for the possession and selling of narcotics," the Iranian news agency Mehr reported on Saturday, quoting the court.

The New York-based rights group International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran quoted the 46-year-old woman's daughter as saying the drug charges were fabricated.

The group said the Iranian-born naturalized Dutch citizen was arrested for taking part in protests against the government in December 2009 while visiting relatives in the Islamic republic.

Drug smuggling charges

The Iranian prosecutor's office confirmed on Saturday that Zahra Bahrami had been arrested for "security crimes."

Elaborating on her alleged drug smuggling, the office said Bahrami had used her Dutch connections to smuggle narcotics into Iran.

"The convict, a member of an international drug gang, smuggled cocaine to Iran using her Dutch connections and had twice shipped and distributed cocaine inside the country," it said.

protesters in Iran in December 2009

Iran witnessed widespread anti-government protests in 2009

During a search of her house, authorities found 450 grams of cocaine and 420 grams of opium, the prosecutor's office said, adding that investigations revealed she had sold 150 grams of cocaine in Iran.

"The revolutionary court sentenced her to death for possessing 450 grams of cocaine and participating in the selling of 150 grams of cocaine," it said.

Netherlands was refused access

Bahrami was also accused of belonging to the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), classified as a terrorist organization responsible for killing several Iranian officials in the last 30 years.

Two members of the group were hanged earlier this week in Tehran for their involvement in protests in 2009.

On Saturday, the Dutch government summoned Iran's ambassador to brief the government about the hanging.

The Netherlands had been seeking details about Bahrami's case and had accused the Iranian authorities of refusing the Dutch embassy access to the prisoner because Iran did not recognize her dual nationality.

Wave of executions

Bahrami's execution takes the total number of people hanged in Iran so far this year to 66, according to media reports.

The spate of executions has drawn criticism from Catherine Ashton, Europe's chief diplomat in talks between world powers and Iran over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

"The European Union is deeply concerned about the use of the death penalty in Iran. Executions are taking place at an alarming rate," she said on Thursday.

Ashton's statement came after Iranian state media on Thursday reported the hanging of ten drug traffickers.

"In addition, abhorrent practices such as public executions and suspension hanging continue to be used, in contravention of Iran's international obligations," added Ashton, restating the EU policy of global opposition to capital punishment.

Author: Natalia Dannenberg (AP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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