AFP: Iran on Thursday said it has arrested more suspects in a nuclear espionage case, a day after a former nuclear official was accused of handing over atomic secrets to Britain. TEHRAN (AFP) Iran on Thursday said it has arrested more suspects in a nuclear espionage case, a day after a former nuclear official was accused of handing over atomic secrets to Britain.
“In the case of nuclear espionage, other people have been identified and arrested,” said Iran’s prosecutor general Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
The intelligence ministry said on Wednesday that former negotiator Hossein Moussavian, who was briefly detained in May on national security charges, was charged with passing classified information to the British embassy in Tehran.
Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie said that in the eyes of his ministry Moussavian was a criminal whose case “was proven”. He also accused unnamed “influential people” of trying to seek his acquittal.
No further details were given on the new arrests. But Dori Najafabadi appeared to hit back at Ejeie’s remarks, saying the only person who could give a verdict was the judge.
“In the case of Hossein Moussavian… only judicial officials can give a verdict,” he said. “The court must give its verdict on the basis of sufficient proof.”
Moussavian is a close ally of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the pragmatic cleric who was trounced by his rival President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 presidential elections.
Tensions have intensified between supporters of Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani, with moderates accusing the president of putting the country in danger with his economic policies and confrontational stance in the nuclear crisis.
Ahmadinejad this week threatened to expose as “traitors” opponents who pressure the government over its nuclear policy.
He also complained that some critics were seeking to “pressure the judge to acquit a spy” in a security case, comments seen by most observers in an unmistakable reference to Moussavian.
The ex-negotiator was released on bail after his detention in May but the recent comments have underlined that his case is far from closed.
Moussavian, a former ambassador to Germany, served as a member of the moderate negotiating team under reformist president Mohammad Khatami to 2005.
He is now the deputy head of a research institute led by Hassan Rowhani, who was Iran’s top nuclear negotiator at the time and is still a staunch Rafsanjani loyalist.
Moussavian was seen in public on Monday next to Rafsanjani as the former president repeated comments that the country was facing a “grave danger” — an outright contradiction of Ahmadinejad’s public confidence.