Israel Saturday expressed shock and concern at heavy prison sentences handed down on 10 Iranian Jews accused of spying for the Jewish state.
"The government of Israel wishes to express its profound shock and concern following the harsh sentences passed on some of the Jewish prisoners who are innocent of any wrongdoing," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"These harsh verdicts will deprive innocent people of their freedom for many years," it added.
Of 13 Jews put on trial for spying for Israel, 10 were sentenced to periods of between four and 13 years in jail, defense lawyers said. The remaining three were acquitted.
Two unidentified Muslims were also given unspecified sentences, a court official said, and two were acquitted.
Israel also called on the international community to continue to work for the release of the Jews.
"We call upon the international community to continue working together with Israel, and to do their utmost to bring about the prompt release of the prisoners," the statement said.
"Iran cannot be accepted as a member of the international community as long as Jewish prisoners are rotting away in prison when they have done no wrong," it added.
The foreign ministry said that Israel would not rest until all the prisoners are released.
Israel also condemned the long period of imprisonment, which the Jews endured pending and during the trial.
"The 18 months of imprisonment which the Iranian Jews suffered constitutes a grave injustice and a gross violation of human rights, contravening the very essence of natural justice upheld by civilized nations and the accepted principles of international law." - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)