AFP: Tehran’s hardline prosecutors have formally charged two detained US-Iranians with spying after they made “admissions” during interrogation, the ISNA news agency reported on Wednesday. TEHRAN, June 6, 2007 (AFP) – Tehran’s hardline prosecutors have formally charged two detained US-Iranians with spying after they made “admissions” during interrogation, the ISNA news agency reported on Wednesday.
A third US-Iranian, who is not being held in jail but has had her passport confiscated, has been accused of working for a “counter-revolutionary” radio station and her case is ready to go to court, the agency said.
“Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh are accused of espionage,” said Hassan Hadad, the Tehran deputy prosecutor in charge of security issues.
“They have admitted carrying out activities but said that their intention was to help Iran.
Individuals have been identified in Tehran who are linked to this affair,” he added.
The cases have further raised tensions with Iran’s arch enemy the United States and Tehran has told Washington in no uncertain terms the affair is none of its business. The Islamic republic does not recognise dual nationality.
Iran has already said the pair had been accused by the intelligence ministry with spying and the formal charges from prosecutors appear to indicate that the case has moved a step forward.
The third US-Iranian, Parnaz Azima, who is still at liberty, has been “accused of collaboration with Radio Farda, a counter-revolutionary radio,” Hadad said.
“Despite her pledges to stop working for this radio, she has continued to do so. Her dossier is ready to be sent to the judge,” he added.
A fourth US-American, California based businessman Ali Shakeri, has been reported arrested by rights groups in the United States and hardline media in Iran, but Hadad said that Tehran prosecutors were not involved.
Esfandiari, the best known of the four, heads the Middle East programme at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars. She was arrested in March after returning to Iran to visit her 93-year-old mother.
Tajbakhsh is an urban planning expert who has worked for well as the Open Society Institute of US billionaire George Soros, accused by Iran of seeking to encourage a “Velvet Revolution” in the Islamic republic.
Shakeri works for a private conflict-resolution group called the Centre for Citizen Peacebuilding, while Azima works for Radio Free Europe’s Persian arm, Radio Farda.
The cases bear some similarity to that of Ramin Jahanbegloo, an Iranian-Canadian intellectual jailed for four months in 2006 for encouraging alleged US efforts to topple the authorities.
He was later released on bail and confessed to “acting against national security” by harbouring contacts with foreigners, although he insisted his actions were unintentional.