Iran General NewsIran starts new probe over detained U.S.-Iranians

Iran starts new probe over detained U.S.-Iranians

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Reuters: Iran’s judicial authorities have launched investigations based on fresh evidence in the cases of two Iranian-Americans detained on spying charges, a judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s judicial authorities have launched investigations based on fresh evidence in the cases of two Iranian-Americans detained on spying charges, a judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday.

Haleh Esfandiari, a Middle East expert at the U.S.-based Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, and Ali Tajbakhsh, urban planning consultant with George Soros’ Open Society Institute are being held on security charges.

Two other Iranian-Americans are accused of the same charges. One of them has been freed on bail but is banned from leaving the country.

“We have received fresh evidence about (Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh’s charges)… fresh investigations have started based on this evidence,” judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi told a weekly news conference.

The United States has called for the release of the Iranian-Americans, denying any involvement by them in spying activities.

Iran, which does not recognize dual nationalities, accuses Washington of using intellectuals to carry out a “soft or velvet revolution” to topple the Islamic state.

Jamshidi said last month that the cases of the four “were in the final stages and results of the investigations will be announced in the next one to two weeks.”

Under Iran’s legal system, the investigation could lead to the case being sent to trial or dismissed.

The affair has heightened tension between Iran and the United States which are already at odds over the Islamic state’s disputed atomic work, which the West fears is aimed at building atom bombs. Iran denies this.

Some analysts link the arrests to the detention in Iraq by U.S. forces of five Iranians, who Washington says were aiding militants. Iran denies any link or any role in stoking violence and says the five men are diplomats and should be released.

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