Dutch Iranian woman sentenced to death in Iran

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami has been found guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced to death by a court in Tehran.

Her daughter, Banafsheh Najebpour, speaking to Radio Netherlands Worldwide from Iran, confirmed the news. She said the court delivered its ruling on Sunday but the defence lawyer had not been allowed to break the news earlier. Banafshef Najebpour is shocked by the news. “I am devastated. What has my mother done wrong for heaven’s sake? I just don’t understand it. The lawyer wouldn’t even talk to me about it.”


Ms Bahrami was born in Iran but moved to the Netherlands, becoming a Dutch citizen. She returned to Iran in December 2009 to visit relatives. She is reported to have been arrested after taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

No help
Banafshef Najebpour last spoke to her mother just over a week ago. “She was holding up well and did not appear to be very afraid. She said she was almost certain that the Dutch government would help her. She assumed everyone would help her because she knows she has not committed any crime.”

But so far she says the promised help has not come, “I have been to the Dutch embassy twice. They said that they wanted to help me, but it was an empty promise, because they have not really done anything to help me. When I found a lawyer, I asked the embassy if it could pay the costs in advance, because I didn’t have the money. But they did not do so,” she told Radio Netherlands.

Dual nationality
Ms Bahrami has allegedly been kept in isolation for months and beaten regularly. Her case got publicity when it was announced on a human rights website run by Iranians. The Dutch authorities only found out who had been arrested six months afterwards. It was only then that her nationality could be confirmed.
The ministry of Foreign Affairs repeatedly called on the authorities in Tehran to give her a fair trial. The embassy tried to provide consular assistance, but Iran refused to recognise her dual nationality.