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Iran Executes Man Charged With 'Spying', Defying Popular Call To Stop Executions

Ebrahim Raeesi, the hardliner Chief Justice of Iran. FILE PHOTO

The Iranian Judiciary has announced on Monday July 20 that Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, a young man who was in jail on charges of "spying for the CIA and Mossad" has been executed.

The news of the execution comes while the Judiciary appeared to have listened to calls by hundreds of thousands of people on social media for stopping executions in Iran and put on hold execution orders for three men charged with participation in the November 2019 protests.

However, some Iran watchers commented on social media that they were expecting some kind of defiant reaction from the Islamic Republic to show that it will not be intimidated by public campaigns.

Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeesi reiterated earlier Monday that execution orders will go ahead as planned and that the Judiciary will not be influenced by campaigns against capital punishment.

The execution verdict against Mousavi Majd has been carried out 40 days after his conviction at a court in Tehran.

Mahmud Mousavi-Majd accused of spying for CIA and Mossad.
Mahmud Mousavi-Majd accused of spying for CIA and Mossad.

The spokesman of Irans's Judiciary had accused Mousavi Majd of informing foreign spy agencies about the whereabouts and travel plans of former Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani who as killed in January in a U.S. drone strike. However, Mousavi Majd was in jail for months before the killing of Soleimani in Baghdad.

The Judiciary says that the initial death verdict against Mousavi Majd had been issued in September 2019.

Esmaili had said in June that Mousavi Majd who was residing in Syria with his family had contacts with Iranian forces in Syria. His family is still living in Syria, Esmaili added.

In mid-June, IRGC-linked Tasnim News Agency claimed that "Mousavi Majed grew up in Syria where he came in contact with some Iranian military advisers." According to the agency, he "worked with Iranian forces as a driver and sold the information he collected to foreign intelligence services against a monthly payment of $5,000."

In audio files in Persian and Arabic Mousavi Majd sent to Persian-speaking media in London, he complained about the way he was interrogated and tried in extremely polite words, probably fearing that the file might fall into the wrong hands before it reached the media.

Like most Iranians charged with espionage, Mousavi Majd said that words were put in his mouth. Many others, including those previously charged as spies in the case of murder of Iran's "nuclear scientists" have said that they were told to confess against themselves if they wanted to be released quickly.

Earlier, a Twitter account in the name of Mahmoud Mousavi Majd which was active since the first week of June, gave away some information about his case, adding that "he was residing in Syria and was a soldier serving with the Iranian forces as he spoke fluent Arabic and Persian."

The comment contradicted Tasnim's report which said Mousavi Majd was not a member of the IRGC in Syria.

The Twitter account continued supporting Mousavi Majd. On July 16 it tweeted: "Seyyed Mahmoud has a family. He wants justice. He wants to appeal and be tried once again with real lawyers present next to him. The evidence to accuse him of espionage must be presented at the court." The account added that the appointed defense lawyer withdrew himself from the case.

International human rights watchdogs have said time and again that the Iranian judiciary forces suspects to confess against themselves, denies them the right to be represented by defense lawyers and refuses to hold transparent trials.

During the past week, more than 11 million Iranians on social media protested against capital punishment in Iran and reminded the regime of hundreds of cases of unfair trials and executions in Iran during the past 40 years.

Most executions in the world take place in Iran and China. International human rights watchdogs says 8,071 executions have taken place in public or in prisons in Iran between the years 2000 and 2009. The Iranian Human Rights Organization also says that 600 people have been executed in Iran between 2010 and 2013.