(Tehran) Two men have been executed by hanging in Iran for burning a copy of the Quran and insulting the Prophet Muhammad, the judicial authority news agency Mizan Online reported on Monday.

Sadrollah Fazeli Zare and Youssef Mehrdad, found guilty of “insulting the Prophet Muhammad and other blasphemies including burning the Koran”, were hanged on Monday morning, according to the agency’s website.

In March 2021, one of the defendants admitted to posting on a Telegram account, created to “discredit Islamists”, said insults, Mizan said.

According to justice, Mehrdad was arrested in Ardabil, in the North West. He had created “a very popular group” on the internet to “spread atheism” in Iran.

A video “referring to the burning of the Quran” was discovered on the defendant’s phone and reposted to his account, the same source said.

While examining Fazeli Zare’s electronic devices, a “popular account” that “promotes atheism” and “insults religious values” was identified.

According to Mizan, the two men had stated during the trial that “certain religious” had condemned them for “apostasy”, without elaborating.

In 2022, the number of people executed was up 75% from a year earlier, two NGOs, Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Norway-based Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM), said in April. in Paris.

At least 582 people were executed in Iran in 2022, a record since 2015, compared to 333 in 2021, said these two NGOs in a joint report.

Tehran has criticized the European Union’s condemnation of the execution on Saturday of an Iranian-Swedish dissident, Habib Chaab, convicted of “terrorism”.

For Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, “the death penalty is an inhuman and irreversible punishment”.