Iran jails two as spies for Israel, Germany and UK

Updated 12 Aug 2020

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Judiciary spokesman Gho­l­a­m­­­hossein Esmaili told reporters that the two would each serve 10 years behind bars. — Creative Commons/File
Judiciary spokesman Gho­l­a­m­­­hossein Esmaili told reporters that the two would each serve 10 years behind bars. — Creative Commons/File

TEHRAN: Iran said on Tuesday it has jailed two men over spying for Britain, Germany and Israel, the latest in a string of espionage cases that have led to arrests and executions.

Judiciary spokesman Gho­l­a­m­­­hossein Esmaili told reporters that the two would each serve 10 years behind bars.

One of them, Massud Mossaheb, had been “spying for (Israeli spy agency) Mossad and Germany” under the guise of general secretary of an Austrian-Iranian society, Esmaili said, quoted by state television’s website.

Mossaheb was found to have been providing them with information on Iran’s “missile, nuclear, nanotechnology and medical fields”.

The second man, Shahram Shirkhani, had been working for British intelligence, the spokesman said.

Shirkhani had been seeking to “corrupt authorities and recruit” people as well as give away information on “contracts related to the central bank, Melli Bank and the defence ministry”.

Esmaili said five more people had been arrested recently for alleged espionage in the foreign, defence and industry ministries, companies working in the energy industry, and Iran’s atomic agency. He did not give their identities or elaborate on charges.

The Austrian foreign ministry said it had had no access to Austrian-Iranian Moss­ah­eb in custody or to his trial, due to his status as a dual national.

Austria’s efforts “for the prisoner’s release will continue undiminished efforts at the highest level”, said in a statement in Vienna.

Iran does not recognise dual nationality and says it considers dual nationals as subject to Iranian laws.

In mid-2019, Austria called for the release of Mossaheb, who is in his early 70s.

It said at the time that no formal charges had been pressed and the reason for his detention was unknown.

According to Austria’s Der Standard newspaper, Mossaheb had travelled to Iran with a delegation from an Austrian research centre which had opened a subsidiary near Tehran.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020