Iran says leader of women trafficking network executed

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Iran's judiciary says it has executed the head of a network that trafficked Iranian women to neighbouring countries for prostitution.

It said Shahrooz Sakhnoori, a man known as "Alex", was the leader of an "escort and trafficking network of Iranian women and girls to some countries in the region", the judiciary's Mizan news agency reported.

It said Sakhnoori was executed on Saturday morning "for the crime of human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution".

Iranian media reported in 2020 that "Alex" had been captured in Malaysia in co-ordination with Interpol and transferred to Iran.

He was sentenced to death in September 2021 on charges of "corruption on earth", a term Iranian authorities use to refer to a broad range of offences, including those related to morals.

Two women were sentenced to death two years ago on charges of "corruption on earth" and human trafficking.

However, advocates said those women were LGBTQI rights activists and were innocent.

Former US president Donald Trump's administration in 2017 added Iran to a US list of countries accused of failing to crack down on human trafficking.

Two years later, the US State Department again designated Iran as a so-called Tier 3 country, the report's ranking for countries that do the least to tackle the crime.

Under a 2000 US law called the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the US does not provide non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance to any country that does not comply with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking and is not making efforts to do so.

"The Government of Iran does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so," the 2019 State Department report said.