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Iran jails 2 people for 10 years for spying for US, Israel

Sentences given to unnamed individuals; lawyer for detained US reporter says he’s not one of them

Iranians burn and stomp on Israeli and American flags during a demonstration against the Saudi-led coalition’s Operation Decisive Storm against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, April 13, 2015. (AFP/Atta Kenare)
Iranians burn and stomp on Israeli and American flags during a demonstration against the Saudi-led coalition’s Operation Decisive Storm against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, April 13, 2015. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

TEHRAN — Iran’s official IRNA news agency said two people have been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of spying for the United States and Israel.

IRNA quoted judicial spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi as saying Sunday that the two were sentenced by a Revolutionary Court, which handles national security cases. He did not provide the names of those sentenced.

“The two persons were sentenced to 10-year prison terms by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court,” Ejehi told reporters in Tehran on Sunday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

The lawyer for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was tried for espionage in a Revolutionary Court, said the case “has nothing to do with the case of my client.” Leila Ahsan says the court has yet to issue its verdict on Rezaian.

Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter currently in Iranian custody (screen capture: YouTube/Washington Post)
Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter currently in Iranian custody (screen capture: YouTube/Washington Post)

Rezaian was arrested in July 2014, and reportedly faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. His case has been widely criticized by rights groups.

Last week, an Iranian diplomat denied rumors that the Islamic Republic had any plans to swap the Post reporter for Iranian prisoners held in the United States.

During the nuclear negotiations, US diplomats say they raised the detention of Rezaian and of two other Americans, former US Marine Amir Hekmati of Flint, Michigan, and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho. They say they also asked for the Iranian government’s assistance in finding former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing in 2007 while working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence mission.

Former US Marine Amir Hekmati, who is being held in a prison in Iran on accusations of spying for the CIA (photo credit: AP/Hekmati family via FreeAmir.org)
Former US Marine Amir Hekmati, who is being held in a prison in Iran on charges of spying for the CIA (photo credit: AP/Hekmati family via FreeAmir.org)

Dozens of people attended a Michigan rally on Saturday to mark the four-year anniversary of Iran’s refusal to free Hekmati from prison. The former Marine has been in an Iranian prison since 2011, although the US government denies he’s a spy and has repeatedly called for his release.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Seyed Mahmoud Alawi announced in October that the country’s security forces had arrested several spies in Bushehr, also home to Iran’s first nuclear power plant, Fars said.

“Thanks to the vigilance of the Intelligence Ministry forces who monitor the moves of the foreign intelligence services, some agents who intended to carry out surveillance and intelligence gathering for the foreigners in Bushehr province have been identified and sent to justice,” Fars quoted Alawi as saying at the time.

Alawi also reportedly that foreign spy agencies, including the CIA, Mossad and MI6, were seeking to sabotage operations against Iran’s nuclear and defense programs.

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