Iranian prisoner of conscience Moshen Amir-Aslani was executed last week after being found guilty of heresy and insulting the prophet Jonah, according to human rights organizations.
Aslani, 37 was hanged at Rajaei Shahr Prison after eight years of imprisonment for “spreading corruption on earth” and making “innovations in the religion.”
Aslani was first arrested eight years ago for heresy after hosting Koranic study groups where he reportedly said that he believed the story of Jonah to be symbolic.
A source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the Intelligence Ministry was behind Aslani’s 2006 arrest, which resulted in a four-year prison sentence.
An appellate court later commuted his sentence to 28 months. However, before Aslani was released, additional charges were brought against him including “spreading corruption on earth,” “making innovations in the religion,” insulting the prophet Jonah, and rape.
Iranian authorities claimed that not only did Aslani’s activities not follow the official interpretation of Islam but alleged that he engaged in extramarital sexual relationships with those attending his discussion groups.
According to Iran Human Rights, Aslani never confessed to the rape charges and little evidence was presented to support the allegations during his trial.
In a statement to Mizanews, an Iranian judiciary official said that Aslani was executed for the crime of rape and denied that his death sentence was related to his religious beliefs.