[News] Iran accuses Americans of spying

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Mon Nov 9 11:57:58 EST 2009


2 articles follow

Iran accuses Americans of spying

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/11/2009119135816595507.html

Three US citizens arrested in July after crossing 
into Iran from Iraq have been accused of spying, a judicial official has said.

The US government and the families of Shane 
Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, 
say they were on a hiking holiday and crossed the Iranian border by mistake.

"The three are charged with espionage. 
Investigations continue into the three detained 
Americans in Iran," Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the 
Tehran general prosecutor, said on Monday.

Under Iranian law, espionage is punishable by death.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said 
that there was no reason to continue to detain 
the trio and urged Tehran to release them.

"We believe strongly that there is no evidence to 
support any charge whatsoever," she said during a visit to Berlin.

"And we would renew our request on behalf of 
these three young people and their families that 
the Iranian government exercise compassion and 
release them so they can return home, and we will continue to make that case."

Diplomatic ties

The Iranian announcement came as Washington and 
its allies wait for Tehran's response to a deal 
over its nuclear programme under which it would 
send abroad low-enriched uranium.

Nazanine Moshiri, Al Jazeera's correspondent in 
Tehran, said: "They are talking directly, but 
only talking on the nuclear issue and only at a very low level.

"There are no diplomatic ties here and what the 
Americans have had to do to get to these three 
Americans is to go through the Swiss. The Swiss 
diplomats were able to visit them in Evin prison about a week ago."

Iran is also holding another American citizen, 
Kian Tajbakhsh, an academic who was arrested amid 
the mass protests over the re-election of Mahmoud 
Ahmadinejad, the president. Last month he was 
sentenced to 12 years in prison for his alleged 
role in the violence that followed the polls.

In January, Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American 
journalist, was arrested in Tehran, and convicted 
of espionage. She was later released on appeal.
***********************************************************

What’s behind Iran’s espionage charge against US hikers

http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/11/09/whats-behind-irans-espionage-charge-against-us-hikers/

Iran announced Monday that three American hikers 
– Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal – 
arrested July 31 amid post-election tensions had been charged with espionage.


By Scott Peterson | Staff writer 11.09.09

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Iran has charged three 
Americans with espionage, after they strayed 
during a hiking trip in northern Iraq this past 
July, in a move likely to complicate US overtures toward Iran.

“The three are charged with espionage. 
Investigations continue into the three detained 
Americans in Iran,” Tehran prosecutor Abbas 
Jafari Dolatabadi said on Monday. Family members 
have made appeals for their release, shown 
snapshots of the three visiting tourist sites in 
the Middle East, and say they wandered into Iran by accident.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton renewed her 
call for the release of the three hikers from Berlin on Monday.

“We believe strongly that there is no evidence to 
support any charge whatsoever,” Clinton said. 
“And we would renew our request on behalf of 
these three young people and their families that 
the Iranian government exercise compassion and 
release them, so they can return home.”

According to Iranian law, the charges could 
result in the death penalty. But 
<http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0419/p06s07-wome.html>past 
precedent suggests that the decision by Iran’s 
hard-line judiciary could be a bid by some 
right-wing factions in Iran to block any chance 
of US-Iran reconciliation. It could also be used 
as a diplomatic card to gain concessions, or to 
exacerbate already tricky nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West.

Americans detained amid crisis in sensitive Kurdish area

The three detainees – Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, 
and Josh Fattal – all graduates of the University 
of California – Berkeley, were arrested while the 
Islamic Republic was mired in its greatest political crisis in nearly 30 years.

Weeks of bloody street clashes after a disputed 
presidential election had prompted 
ultraconservative leaders, security chiefs, and 
prosecutors to accuse the US, Britain and Israel 
of fomenting the unrest and trying to overthrow 
the government in a 
“<http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/08/14/do-iran%E2%80%99s-hard-liners-really-believe-%E2%80%98velvet-revolution%E2%80%99-plot/>velvet 
revolution.”

The prosecutor said on Monday, according to the 
official IRNA news agency, that an “opinion [on 
their case] will be given in the not distant future.”

The Kurdish area of northern Iran is especially 
sensitive, due to a slow-burn conflict with 
anti-Iranian PJAK guerrillas based in Iraq, which 
frequently target Iranian police and security 
forces. Iran and many outside analysts charge 
that those Kurdish fighters – who work alongside 
Turkish PKK guerrillas – have received American 
support in their fight against Iran. Washington denies the claim.

The espionage charge comes just days after Iran’s 
supreme religious leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali 
Khamenei marked the 30th anniversary of the 
takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran by military 
students with a 
<http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1104/p06s19-wome.html>tough anti-US speech.

“The American government is a really arrogant 
power and the Iranian nation will not be deceived 
with its apparent reconciliatory behavior,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

Roxana Saberi, also charged with espionage, was later freed

Iran is also holding academic Kian Tajbakhsh, a 
dual US-Iran citizen, who was arrested shortly 
after the violence began and charged along with 
140 senior reformist figures and activists with 
national security offenses aimed at toppling the 
regime. He was 
<http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/10/21/iran-gives-us-citizen-kian-tajbakhsh-12-years-for-political-activity/>sentenced 
to 12 years in jail last month for activity 
related to the post-election protests.

Earlier this year dual US-Iranian citizen Roxana 
Saberi was arrested in Tehran, charged with 
espionage, and sentenced to eight years in 
prison. The sentence was reversed on appeal, and 
<http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0511/p06s07-wome.html>she 
was released to her parents in May, after more than three months in prison.

Analysts at the time said her arrest was a 
deliberate attempt by hard-line faction 
“spoilers” to derail President Barack Obama’s attempts at dialogue with Tehran.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 
<http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0419/p06s07-wome.html>took 
the unusual step of intervening in Saberi’s case, 
writing to the judiciary to be sure she was granted all her rights.

The arrest of the hikers “could also facilitate 
things,” suggested one close observer in Tehran 
on Monday. “If Ahmadinejad intervenes with a 
presidential decree, as he did with [Saberi], at 
least he can pose as somebody who is in favor of softening tensions.”





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