TEHRAN, July 23 (UPI) -- Criticism of Iran's stance on capital punishment is off the mark because most prisoners were executed after drug charges convictions, a judiciary official said.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian opposition group, said at least 75 people were executed in Iran from June 26-July 8. The NCRI said Iran used capital punishment to silence critics following June presidential elections.
Western governments have been critical of Iran's human rights record and its crackdown on dissent. Judicial chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani denied allegations the capital punishment system targeted opposition figures.
He said attacks on Iran's human rights record are "totally erroneous." Most executions are for drug-related offense and most of the illicit drug trade in Iran targets U.S. and European markets, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch said in its annual report for 2013 said Iran executes drug offenders at "high rates." It also targets human rights defenders and civil society activists.