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Iran judge to decide fate of detained Iranian-Americans next week

[JURIST] Iranian judiciary spokesperson Alireza Jamshidi said Tuesday that an Iranian judge will decide whether to proceed with indictments against three Iranian-Americans early next week, after the conclusion of preliminary investigations. Iran has formally charged [JURIST report] Dr. Haleh Esfandiari [WWC profile] for an alleged plot "against the sovereignty of the country," and charged Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh [OSI press release] and Radio Farda [media website] correspondent Parnaz Azima for an alleged espionage conspiracy against the government [JURIST report].

Last Wednesday, an Iranian judge said that Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh have admitted to carrying out some "activities" [JURIST report], although it was unclear if the admissions were tantamount to admission of spying. Azima, who has been released on bail, was previously held for allegedly cooperating with "anti-revolutionary" media. Numerous officials, including US President George W. Bush have called for the release [WH statement; JURIST report] of the detainees who were arrested last month. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation for Human Rights, and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi have also issued a joint statement [text] calling for their release. Ebadi is serving as lawyer for Esfandiari and said this week that she has been denied access to counsel [JURIST report], but the Iranian judiciary spokesperson denied that claim. Reuters has more.

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