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Netherlands Freezing Ties With Iran Over Woman's Execution

The Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, Uri Rosenthal (File Photo).

The Netherlands says it has frozen official contacts with Iran to protest the hanging of a Dutch-Iranian woman and will ask the European Union to take action against the country. The woman was executed Saturday in Tehran, more than a year after she was detained during protests against the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal says he was informed by the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands that Zahra Bahrami, 45, was executed Saturday in Tehran. Iranian officials say Bahrami was hanged for possessing and selling drugs.

But the woman's daughter is quoted by the New York-based rights group International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran as saying the drug charges were fabricated.

Human-rights activists point out that Bahrami, who had dual Dutch and Iranian nationality, was detained in Tehran during protests against the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in December 2009.

Dutch Minister Rosenthal has condemned the hanging of Bahrami. He says the Netherlands has broken off ties with Iran.

Rosenthal says the execution of Bahrami "is a barbaric act of the Iranian regime." He adds that he is also shocked because the day before the execution Iranian authorities told him "the legal procedures were not yet closed." The minister says the Netherlands has therefore decided "to freeze all official contacts with Iran."

Additionally, he wants to ask the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union on Monday to take actions against Iran.

He says EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is investigating possible measures against Iran.

The Iranian Embassy in the Netherlands is defending the execution. In a statement, it maintains Bahrami was a member of an international drug trafficking ring, who traveled on Dutch, Iranian and Spanish passports with different personal information.

It says Bahrami, who was born in Iran, but gained Dutch citizenship after moving to the Netherlands, was accorded the legal rights of an Iranian citizen. Tehran does not recognize dual nationality.

Bahrami's Dutch lawyer, Adrie Tilburg, questions the fairness of the trial.

He says Iran made clear that two lawyers would be involved in the case, with financial support from the Dutch government. But now, he says, there is the announcement the death penalty ruling has been carried out.

The European Union, currently chaired by Hungary, has expressed concerns about the many public executions in Iran.

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