Iran: Protesters executed and journalist arrested amid crackdown following protests

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Iran executed two men Saturday, according to state-affiliated Fars News, bringing to four the total number of people executed in relation to the protests that have swept the country since September.

Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini were hanged early Saturday morning, Fars News reported. The pair, who allegedly took part in anti-regime protests last year, were convicted of killing Seyed Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the country’s Basij paramilitary force, in Karaj on November 3, according to the Iran’s judiciary news agency Mizan.

Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, a lawyer advocating for Karami, posted to Twitter Saturday saying that Karami was not given final rights to speak to his family before his execution. The lawyer added that Karami had begun a dry food hunger strike Wednesday as a form of protest against officials for not allowing Aghasi to represent him.

In December Karami’s parents took to social media in a plea for his life. “Please, I beg of you to please lift the execution order from my son’s file,” the father of the 21-year-old karate champion said.

As many as 41 more protesters have been sentenced to death in Iran, according to statements from both Iranian officials and in Iranian media reviewed by CNN and 1500Tasvir, but the number could be much higher.

Meanwhile, the politics editor of independent Iranian newspaper Etemad Online, Mehdi Beyk, was detained on Thursday, according to a tweet from the publication. The arrest came amid a crackdown by Iranian authorities following the protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last year after she was apprehended by the state’s morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly. The protests have since coalesced around a range of grievances with the authoritarian regime.

Mehdi Beyk is seen in a photo posted by his wife, Zahra Beyk, following his arrest.

Beyk was detained by officials from Iran’s Ministry of Information, his wife, Zahra Beyk, said on Friday.

He was arrested after he “interviewed the families of several of those arrested in the ongoing demonstrations,” according to pro-reform activist outlet IranWire.

The journalist’s “mobile phone, laptop, and belongings were confiscated,” his wife tweeted. It is unclear so far why Beyk was arrested.

Iranian officials have previously arrested some individuals for their criticism of the government’s response to the demonstrations.

One of Iran’s best-known actresses, Taraneh Alidoosti, was released on bail Wednesday, state-aligned ISNA said, after she was arrested following her criticism of a protester’s execution.

Known as a feminist activist, Alidoosti last month published a picture of herself on Instagram without the Islamic hijab and holding a sign reading “Women, Life, Freedom” to show support for the protest movement.

Alidoosti was not formally charged but was initially arrested for “lack of evidence for her claims” in relation to her protest against the hanging of Mohsen Shekari last month in the first known execution linked to the protests.

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