Reuters: Two Iranian-Americans detained in the Islamic Republic on spying charges have “accepted that they carried out some activities”, an Iranian judge was quoted as saying on Wednesday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Two Iranian-Americans detained in the Islamic Republic on spying charges have “accepted that they carried out some activities”, an Iranian judge was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Judge Hossein Haddad said a third dual national, journalist Parnaz Azima, had been detained for cooperating with “anti-revolutionary” media. But a judiciary source later told Reuters she was released on bail and was not now under arrest.
The Iranian judiciary said on May 29 that Azima, academic Haleh Esfandiari and social scientist Kian Tajbakhsh were accused of spying. The United States has condemned Iran’s detention of American citizens and called for their release.
The detentions come at a time of increased tension between Tehran and Washington over Iran’s disputed nuclear program, which Western powers suspect is a cover for building atom bombs. Iran says it wants only to generate electricity.
Iran says Washington is using intellectuals and others inside the country to undermine it through what it calls a “soft revolution.” A charge of spying could carry the death sentence under Iranian law.
“There were a lot of investigations in this field and we’ve reached very good results,” Haddad, security deputy of Tehran’s public and revolutionary court, told the ISNA news agency about the cases of Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh.
“They have accepted that they have carried out some activities but they say their aim was to help,” he said, suggesting the probe had also uncovered other suspects in the Iranian capital but giving no details.
Azima was accused of working with “anti-revolutionary” radio stations, including U.S.-funded Radio Farda, he said.
“She has been arrested and her case is ready to be sent to the court,” Haddad said. A judiciary source confirmed she had been detained but said she was later released on bail, without specifying when.
Esfandiari, the director of the U.S. Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars’ Middle East program, was detained on May 8 while visiting Tehran. The New York-based Open Society Institute says Tajbakhsh was arrested around May 11.
Washington, which has not had diplomatic ties with Tehran since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, has said a fourth dual national has also been detained and has demanded they all be freed unconditionally.
Iran, which does not recognize dual nationalities, has told Washington to focus on its own cases of human rights abuse.
Some analysts link the Iranian arrests to the detention of five Iranians by U.S. forces in Iraq in January. Iran says the five are diplomats but U.S. officials say they were involved in supporting militants inside Iraq. Iran has dismissed any linkage between the detentions in Iraq and any other issues.
(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi)