Tehran court upheld death penalty for an Iranian national after months of tension with the U.S.
TEHRAN—Iran said it would soon execute an Iranian citizen for allegedly giving details about the country’s nuclear program to the U.S., after arresting more than a dozen people last year on charges of spying for America as tensions worsened between Tehran and Washington.
Amir Rahimpour received “big payments” for spying for the Central Intelligence Agency, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili as saying Tuesday, adding that Iran’s top court had upheld his death sentence.
“God willing, he will see his punishment soon,” he said.
Mr. Esmaili didn’t offer any supporting evidence for the allegations against Mr. Rahimpour. The U.S. didn’t immediately react to the announcement.
Iran in the past has arrested and executed scores of alleged spies who it said were working for foreign powers. It detained 17 Iranian citizens in July on charges of spying for the U.S., drawing a rebuke from President Trump who dismissed the allegations as “totally false”. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mr. Rahimpour was part of those arrested then.
Iran’s nuclear program is at the root of the worsening friction between Iran and the Trump administration, which has imposed economic sanctions on Iran after Washington pulled out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal in 2018.
The U.S. is attempting to coerce Iran to renegotiate the nuclear accord and roll back its military presence in the Middle East.
Washington and Tehran pulled back from the brink of war last month after the U.S. killed a top Iranian commander in Iraq, provoking retaliatory strikes on bases in Iraq housing American troops.
Tuesday’s announcement comes after a prisoner swap in December between Tehran and Washington, which provided a rare diplomatic opening between the two longtime foes. Iran released Xiyue Wang, an American citizen and Princeton Ph.D. student sentenced to 10 years in prison for alleged espionage, while the U.S. freed an Iranian professor held in the U.S. on charges of violating sanctions.
Iran still holds more than a dozen foreign prisoners, including at least four Americans, most of them on espionage or security-related charges that haven’t been openly backed up by evidence.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in January pressed her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif to have released British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert who is currently serving a 10-year sentence for alleged espionage, she told the Guardian newspaper.
France has also recently pressured Tehran to release two French citizens held since July 2009, whom Paris says are in bad health.
Iran’s foreign ministry last week told France such pressure would yield no results. “We are sure that no rights will be violated,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.
wsj.com / balkantimes.press
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