Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Khaleq Khezrzadeh


Age: 32
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: January 9, 2023
Location of Killing: Central Prison (Tohid), Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Drug trafficking; Corruption on earth
Age at time of alleged offense: 29

About this Case

News of  Mr. Khaleq Khezradeh’s execution was published on the websites of Kurdistan Human Rights Network and Hengaw (January 9, 2023). Additional information about this case was obtained from decisions of Branch 2 of the Hormozgan Province Appeals Court (November 17, 2020) and Branch 50 of the Supreme Court (January 6, 2021; both on file with the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, ABC), as well as an interview conducted by ABC with sources with knowledge of the case (January 13, 2023 and May 15, 2023).

Mr. Khezrzadeh, son of Omar, was an ethnically Kurdish native of the village of Kani Bodagh in the Lajan district of Piranshahr County, West Azerbaijan province and 32 years old at the time of his execution (Appeals Court decision, Kurdistan Human Rights Network, Hengaw, ABC interview May 15, 2023). He was married and the father of a single son. He enjoyed hiking, fishing, and wrestling, and attended anti-government protests (ABC interview January 13, 2023). 

Around the year 2008, Mr. Khezrzadeh’s family, faced with poor economic circumstances, moved to the city of Piranshahr from the countryside. Mr. Khezrzadeh completed his second year of high school and after completing his mandatory military service entered the labor market to help make ends meet for his family. He worked as a border courier, as well as in the fields of building construction and truck driving (ABC interview, May 15, 2023). 

The case against Mr. Khezrzadeh was based on the recovery of illicit drugs from a vehicle he was driving near Bandar Lengeh, Hormozgan Province in June of 2021. 

Arrest and Detention

Mr. Khezrzadeh and a co-defendant were arrested on June 1, 2020, when the vehicle Mr. Khezrzadaeh was driving was stopped by uniformed police in Berkeh-ye Soflin village of Bandar Lengeh, Hormozgan Province. Agents recovered the drugs from the vehicle. After two days in custody, Mr. Khezrazadeh was able to inform his family of his arrest by phone (Supreme Court decision, ABC interview). 

Following initial interrogations, Mr. Khezrzadeh and his co-defendant were held on a temporary detention order issued October 10, 2022 by Branch One of the Bandar Lengeh County Revolutionary Court. They contested this order, which was upheld by Branch Two of the Hormozgan Province Appeals Court (under Presiding Judge Mashallah Afsharpur and Member Judge Mokhtar Sadeqi). From Bandar Lengeh, Mr. Khezrzadeh was transferred to Bandar Abbas Central Prison (Supreme Court decision, ABC interview January 13, 2023).

Mr. Khezrzadeh’s family was not able to visit him during his time in custody, owing to their poverty (ABC interview May 15, 2023). 


Khezrzadeh was originally tried at Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of Bandar Lengeh County, by way of a virtual video connection established with Bandar Lengeh prison on October 20, 2020. He was represented by a court-appointed attorney (Supreme Court decision).


The charge against Mr. Khezradeh were “corruption on earth through drug trafficking” by way of conspiracy in the transportation of 6.2 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine (Supreme Court decision).

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political, civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Thousands of alleged drug traffickers have been sentenced to death following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. Scores of them were executed based on a 1989 law imposing mandatory death sentences on drug traffickers found in possession of specified amounts of prescribed narcotics (5 kg of hashish or opium, and more than 30 grams of heroin, codeine or methadone). The exact number of people convicted based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of Guilt

The charges against Mr. Khezrzadeh were based on the discovery of 6.2 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in a vehicle he was driving.The evidence against him comprised his own confession of having done “something illegal” as well as the confessions of his co-defendants and the notes of the arresting officers (Supreme Court decision, ABC interview January 13, 2023.) 

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress.


Based on court document information, in initial interrogations, Mr. Khezrzadeh confessed to transporting the narcotics recovered from the car, after his codefendant’s friend had taken the vehicle for a period of two days. After being read his charges, he stated an acquaintance had asked him to transport pills, and that he was unaware he was transporting methamphetamine (Supreme Court decision).At trial, Mr. Khezrzadeh further clarified his defense:“We were not aware of the crystal meth [being in the car] and they gave us something else in Iranshahr to come to Bandar Abbas. I’m a tile layer by profession and I became a driver, moving passengers, because of the Coronavirus [pandemic]. One of my passengers asked me how I was doing financially, and I told him I had problems [making ends meet]. He said he had a cargo for Bandar Abbas… The guy also gave us a cell phone and said ‘I need you to take some pills for me’ and did not tell me what kind of pills. He said it wasn’t illegal. Then, when we came to Bandar Abbas, they took the car and the cell phone, and gave us the car back the next day… We were stopped and arrested at the police post, and if I knew that they had [made a secret compartment and] hidden drugs in the car, I would have fled [when they stopped us]. If I wanted to traffic in drugs, I would have done it in our own region. I’m an athlete, I don’t even smoke cigarettes. They told me I was transporting pills; there was never any mention of crystal meth....” 

Mr. Khezrzadeh’s attorney requested the court conduct investigations into the owner of the drugs. Mr. Khezrzadeh said he had saved the individual’s phone number in his cell phone, and would be able to recognize him by sight (Supreme Court Decision). 


Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of Bandar Lengeh County found Mr. Khezrzadeh guilty and sentenced him to death on October 21, 2020. Citing Mr. Khezrzadeh’s lack of criminal record and the fact he was motivated by poverty, this court proposed a reduction in the sentence to the Pardon Committee. The Pardon Committee did not grant a reduction.On appeal, Branch 50 of the Supreme Court presided over by Mohammad Hossein Razi  (with Hossein Mohammadi Monavar ( judge,) and Kamran Mohammad Hosseini (deputy judge)) upheld this sentence on January 6, 2021 (Supreme Court verdict). 

The authorities executed Mr. Khezrzadeh at Bandar Abbas Central Prison on January 9, 2023 (Kurdistan Human Rights Network). According to a source with knowledge of the case, the night before his execution, Mr. Khezrzadeh telephoned his family, and told them that the verdict was scheduled to be implemented the next morning. His family members gathered and mobilized to save him, including by going to Piranshahr representative in the parliament.  After a few phone calls, the latter had told the family that the execution order had been stayed. The news had also reached Mr. Khezrzadeh, who had called his family around 11 PM to share the good news (ABC interview, May 15 2023). 

Mr. Khezrzadeh’s body was turned over to his family at the cemetery in the city of Bandar Abbas. The burial was conducted in a cemetery in Piranshahr. Authorities permitted the family a funeral on the condition they did not shout political slogans (ABC interview January 13, 2023).

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