TEHRAN, Jan 29: Iran on Saturday hanged an Iranian-Dutch woman for drug smuggling after initially arresting her for anti-government protests, the Tehran prosecutor's office said.

Zahra Bahrami's execution takes the total number of people hanged in Iran so far this year to 66, according to a tally based on media reports.

The Netherlands summoned Iran's ambassador in the wake of the hanging, the Dutch foreign ministry said.

“A drug trafficker named Zahra Bahrami, daughter of Ali, was hanged early on Saturday morning after she was convicted of selling and possessing drugs,” the prosecutor's office said.

Bahrami, a 46-year-old Iranian-born naturalised Dutch citizen, was reportedly arrested in December 2009 after joining a protest against the government while visiting relatives in the Islamic republic.The prosecutor's office confirmed on Saturday that she had been arrested for “security crimes”. But elaborating on the drug smuggling charge, the office said Bahrami had used her Dutch connections to smuggle narcotics into Iran.

“The convict, a member of an international drug gang, smuggled cocaine to Iran using her Dutch connections and had twice shipped and distributed cocaine inside the country,” it said.

During a search of her house, authorities found 450 grams of cocaine and 420 grams of opium, the prosecutor's office said, adding that investigations revealed she had sold 150 grams of cocaine in Iran.

“The revolutionary court sentenced her to death for possessing 450 grams of cocaine and participating in the selling of 150 grams of cocaine,” it said.

The Netherlands had been seeking details about Bahrami's case and had accused the Iranian authorities of refusing the Dutch embassy access to the prisoner because they did not recognise her dual nationality.

Foreign ministry spokesman Bengt van Loosdrecht said in The Hague that the ministry had not yet received confirmation of the execution. “The minister has summoned Iran's ambassador in order to elucidate this piece of information,” he said.

On January 5, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal expressed “extreme concern” about Bahrami, and said that he had “asked the Iranian authorities to provide immediate clarification” about her case. “We insist on information, the possibility to provide her with consular assistance, and a fair course of justice,” Rosenthal said in a statement at the time.

Dutch broadcaster Radio Netherlands Worldwide, quoting Bahrami's daughter Banafsheh Najebpour, had reported earlier this month that Bahrami was awaiting trial in a second capital case in which she was accused of being in an armed opposition group.—AFP

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