London, 13 Feb – The Iranian Regime has said that it held the third session of the closed-door trial of eight environmentalists, held in prison for over a year on bogus espionage charges.
The Mizan news agency, which is affiliated with the Iranian judiciary, reported that on Tuesday the third session of the trial that began last month was held.
The report said that the prosecutor read out more of the 300-page indictment against the defendants – Sam Rajabi, Niloufar Bayani, Taher Ghadirian, Houman Jowkar, Sepideh Kashani, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, Abdolreza Kouhpayeh and Morad Tahbaz.
It has been hard to find out details of the trial because the Regime did not allow the environmentalists to bring in their own lawyers and the defendants’ relatives have declined to speak to the media.
Mohamad Aghasi, the lawyer who had been trying to defend Rajabi and was not invited to the first session of the trial, announced via Twitter on Sunday that he was no longer formally defending Rajabi.
He explained that Rajabi’s mother had called him to say that her son had told her that Aghasi had been dismissed from the case.
Aghasi then repeated his previous statement that Rajabi had wanted only Aghasi to represent him. However, defendants accused of security crimes are only allowed to pick from a list of 20 or so lawyers.
Aghasi did confirm that Rajabi was acquitted of espionage, but has been charged with two other national security crimes; something that Iranian state-run media has made no comment on.
State-run Fars News Agency said that the defendants are “accused of spying on the country’s military installations”, while IRNA said that four environmentalists are charged with “sowing corruption on Earth” – a crime that carries the death penalty- three are charged with “espionage” and one with “conspiracy against national security”.
The defendants were arrested in January 2018, alongside the founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Iranian-Canadian dual national Kavous Seyed Emami.
Emami died in custody in February under suspicious circumstances, which authorities ruled a suicide, but there has been no independent investigation and they are preventing his wife and children from leaving the country.
According to a source who spoke to VOA, another member of the conservation group, Pouria Sepahvand, was detained by authorities on February 2, the same day as the second session of the trial.