Qatari newspapers on Sunday slammed the West's criticism of prison terms handed down on 10 Iranian Jews found guilty of spying for Israel as interference in Tehran's internal affairs.
"This attitude goes against the attempt by several western countries, led by the United States, to normalize relations with Iran and open a new page in relations," Al-Raya paper charged.
"Iran has had to avoid every irregularity as the case progressed so as not to draw flak from critics," said the paper, which, like the rest of the Qatari press, reflects the official point of view.
"Why do those who are angry at the verdict against the Jews forget that Muslims were accused and some received prison terms and other Jews were acquitted?" Al-Raya asked.
"We back the Iranian authorities and the measures they have taken in this business to protect the security and stability of Iran," it said.
"We categorically reject any threat or interference in Iranian affairs and any questioning of its judicial system."
Al-Sharq newspaper, for its part, said "the uproar these verdicts have caused in Europe can be put down to the World Jewish Council's efforts over recent months to put pressure on Iran to secure the release of the accused."
"European countries would have been happy with lighter verdicts which would have avoided an international crisis but the Zionists' greed was such that they demanded their acquittal," Al-Sharq said.
"These verdicts, which have shown the depth of Europe's bias towards world Zionism, have at the same time confirmed the strength of Iran's position and its rejection of external interference," the paper concluded.
The revolutionary court in the southern city of Shiraz jailed 10 out of the 13 Jewish defendants Saturday for terms of up to 13 years in prison, while two Muslims implicated in the alleged spy ring were given two years each.
Three other Jews and two Muslims were acquitted.
Israel expressed shock and concern and called on the international community to work to secure the release of the Jews, who it said were totally innocent.
US President Bill Clinton said Saturday he was "disturbed" by the guilty verdicts, while the European Union has expressed its concern at the sentences - DOHA (AFP)
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