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Executions for Security-related Charges in 2023

This is an extract from the 2023 Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran. To read the full report, please click here.

The security-related charges of moharebeh (enmity against God), efsad-fil-arz (corruption on earth) and baghy (armed rebellion) have been used to execute countless political and ordinary crime prisoners in the last 45 years. From the bloody decade of the 1980s to present day, Revolutionary Courts around the country have handed down death sentences based on torture-tainted confessions and trials that have been likened to kangaroo courts. From protesters to dissidents, armed robbers to spies, human traffickers to terrorists, security-related charges have been used for a wide range of so-called offences to intimidate and create societal fear for decades. 2023 saw a significant rise in the number of these cases. At least 39 people were executed for security-related charges compared to 16 in 2022, 13 in 2021, 15 in 2020 and 9 in 2019.

Executed on charges of moharebeh, baghy and efsad-fil-arz:


Sarkout Ahmadi

Sarkout (Arash) Ahmadi was a Kurdish political prisoner who was arrested by IRGC forces at the Iran-Turkey border while trying to leave the country in December 2020. He was sentenced to death for charges of “moharebeh through membership of Komeleh party and the murder of a traffic officer” in Ravansar in Kermanshah province. Sarkout’s torture-tainted confessions were aired by state media. He was secretly executed in Kermanshah Central Prison on 22 February 2023 without his family being notified.[1]


Mohiyedin Ebrahimi

Kurdish political prisoner Mohiyedin Ebrahimi was a kolbar (human mule) who was arrested by IRGC forces on 3 November 2017 after being shot in the leg. His brother had been killed by border forces while also working as a kolbar. Mohiyedin was the breadwinner to 12 people, including a physically disabled child and his brother’s family. Tortured to accept bogus charges of firearms possession and membership in political groups, he was denied access to a lawyer at trial, due process and a fair trial. He recounted the injustices against him to Iran Human Rights[2] before being executed in Urmia Central Prison on 17 March 2023.[3]The day prior to his execution, at his last visit, his son Fakhredin was beaten by prison guards and detained for hours. Fakhredin was later sentenced to a year imprisonment and a two-year suspended sentence for “destruction of the security glass in the Court of Appeals” by Branch 113 of the Urmia Second Criminal Court.[4]


Edris Bilrani, Mohammad Barahouyi Anjomani and Mohammad Karim Barkazayi Akson

Edris Bilrani, Mohammad Barahouyi Anjomani and Mohammad Karim Barkazayi Akson were Baluch political prisoners who were severely tortured by the IRGC Intelligence Organisation to extract forced confessions. They were sentenced to death for charges of “efsad-fil-arz through terrorist bombings of the 12 Zahedan police station on 29 January 2018, participation in the terrorist explosion in the path of a police patrol car on 25 June 2019 which resulted in the injury of several police officers and the destruction of public and government property, and smuggling bomb-making equipment.” Their executions were secretly carried out without their families being notified on 13 November 2023 in Zahedan Central Prison.[5]


Ghasem Abasteh and Ayoub Karimi

Ghasem Abasteh (left) and Ayoub Karimi were Kurdish-Sunni minorities who were arrested with Anwar Khezri, Davoud Abdollahi, Farhad Salimi, Khosro Besharat and Kamran Sheikheh in January 2010. According to one of Ghasem’s relatives, the seven men were “physically and mentally tortured to extract forced confessions. Despite years passing, the signs of torture were still visible on Ghasem’s body.” They were sentenced to death for charges of moharebeh and efsad-fil-arz through “armed action and membership in a Salafi jihadi group” by Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court in February/March 2016. Ghasem was executed in Ghezelhesar Prison on 5 November 2023,[6] and Ayoub was executed at the same prison on 29 November 2023.[7]


Ali Saber Motlagh

Ali Saber Motlagh was a political prisoner in the 1980s who had been jailed for supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK). He was later released and had moved abroad before returning to Iran around four years prior to his execution. Ali Saber was arrested and sentenced to death for allegedly killing a government official on 28 August 1981 though no information is available about his case or whether he was retried. He was executed in silence in Rasht Central Prison on 25 November 2023.[8]



[1] https://iranhr.net/en/articles/5742/

[2] https://iranhr.net/en/articles/5768/

[3] https://iranhr.net/en/articles/5782/

[4] Iran Human Rights 2023 Human Rights Defenders Report, page 44: https://iranhr.net/media/files/HRD_2023_Eng_Final.pdf

[5] https://iranhr.net/en/articles/6307/

[6] https://iranhr.net/en/articles/6290/

[7] https://iranhr.net/en/articles/6364/

[8] https://iranhr.net/en/articles/6370/