Iran sentences 3 to long prison terms on spying charges
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Tuesday said it sentenced three people — one woman and two men — to lengthy prison terms on security and spying charges. The men were convicted of spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said in remarks broadcast on state TV that the convicted woman is Aras Amiri, who had worked for the British Council while allegedly spying on cultural activities in Iran. The British Council is a non-political organization that works in education, arts and culture.
Amiri has been jailed for the past year while her case was under investigation. She was sentenced to 10 years.
Esmaili identified one of the men as Anoush Ashoori, a dual British-Iranian national. He was sentenced to 12 years for ties to Mossad, as was Ali Johari. Ashoori was detained in Tehran in August 2017.
Johari allegedly passed on information about construction projects by a Revolutionary Guard-affiliated construction conglomerate, Khatam al-Anbia. Esmaili said Johari traveled to Israel and was in touch with Mossad in various countries including India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a Tuesday statement that it has been supportive of Ashoori’s family since his detention and the British Embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access.
“The treatment of all dual nationals detained in Iran is a priority and we raise their cases at the most senior levels. We urge Iran to let them be reunited with their families,” the statement said.
The sentencing comes at a time of increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers, including Britain. Though the British Embassy in Tehran has reopened, the British Council has been closed since 2009.
Another British-Iranian woman held in Tehran, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for allegedly planning the “soft toppling” of Iran’s government while traveling with her young daughter.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the charity arm of Thomson Reuters, was arrested in April 2016. Her sentence has been widely criticized.
Iran does not recognize dual nationalities.
Hardliners in Iran view the country as fighting a cultural “soft war” against Westernization, which they believe is attempting to transform the country’s Islamic beliefs.