Defense for Iran Jews Says it Was Pressured to Admit Clients were Spies
Defense lawyers for 10 Iranian Jews convicted of spying for Israel said Tuesday they had been pressured by judiciary officials to admit their clients were spies or risk being accused of espionage themselves.
"Last month we were placed under pressure from some judicial officials working on the case," defense spokesman Ismail Nasseri told AFP from the southern city of Shiraz.
"They said that either you have to accept that the Jews are spies or we will say you are spies yourselves," he said, threatening to make public the names of the court officials if they denied the report.
"We have sworn that we will not betray our clients, and we cannot accept that our clients are spies," he said. "Public opinion in Iran and the world will not accept this."
The shock announcement comes just two days before a court is set to rule on appeals filed by the 10 men, who were sentenced to between four and 13 years each after being convicted of spying for the Jewish state.
Court spokesman Hossein-Ali Amiri told AFP earlier Thursday that the court would issue its ruling on Thursday, after the decision had been postponed earlier in the month.
Amiri said in early September that there had been some disagreement between judges over whether the sentences for the various offences should be served consecutively or concurrently.
Three other Jews were acquitted in the case, while two Iranian Muslims were given two-year sentences for their auxiliary role in the affair.
Eight of the defendants "confessed" to the charges against them before reporters, though their lawyers denied that the admissions constitute proof of the charges. Israel has rejected any spy link to the men.
The case sparked international condemnation that was rejected by Tehran, which insists that the religion of the defendants has nothing to do with the proceedings and that its courts are independent of politics.
The Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize the state of Israel -- TEHRAN, Sept 19 (AFP) -
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