Dutch break off Iran links over hanging

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The Independent Online

The Dutch government has frozen official contacts with Iran as a protest against the hanging of a Dutch-Iranian woman.

Iranian Ambassador Gharib Abadi was informed of the sanctions on Saturday after he confirmed reports that Zahra Bahrami, 45, was executed in Tehran. His embassy later said the hanging was "an internal issue" that should have no impact on relations.

Iranian state television reported Bahrami was hanged for possessing and selling drugs. The report said that initially Bahrami was arrested for committing "security crimes," but it did not say what became of that case.

Bahrami had been jailed in Iran since December 2009, after protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. The Iranian Embassy in a statement on Saturday, described Bahrami as a member of an international trafficking ring.

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

Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Bengt van Loosdrecht said Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal was "shocked, shattered by this act by a barbaric regime". He added that the hanging was especially shocking as Abadi had assured the Dutch minister on Friday that Bahrami's legal avenues had not yet been exhausted. Dutch diplomats had been denied access to Bahrami while she was in prison.