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Dutch FM: Iran denies sentencing Dutch citizen to death

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said Tuesday that Iran denied that a Dutch citizen detained in Tehran had been sentenced to death.

Speaking during a debate with parliament, Verhagen said he had summoned the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands after reports that Abdoullah al-Mansouri was about to be executed. He said he received assurances that the reports were incorrect.

"I made it clear that it would have dire consequences for our relationship with Iran in the future" if a death sentence were carried out, Verhagen told parliament.

Al-Mansouri, who holds both Dutch and Iranian nationality, was arrested in Syria last year and turned over to Tehran, reportedly on terrorism charges.

Dutch supporters call al-Mansouri a human rights activist, and he was given a royal decoration in 2001 for his work. He is reportedly a leader of an opposition group called the Ahvazi Liberation Organization, which supports the Arab Ahvazi people in Iran.

Verhagen said that the formal charges against al-Mansouri are unknown, and the Netherlands has no access to details of his case.

"They say he's Iranian, and ... they don't recognize his Dutch nationality, and so we have a dispute over consular access," Verhagen said.

In January, U.N. human rights experts accused Iran of executing at least three Ahvazi men arrested in June 2006 on charges including intent to destabilize Iran and overthrow its government.

Verhagen said the Dutch government was continuing to lobby for al-Mansouri's release, and he was sending the highest-ranking bureaucrat in the Dutch foreign ministry as an envoy to Tehran to demand access to al-Mansouri.

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