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Iran court sentences man to death for spying for Israel

[JURIST] Iran's Revolutionary Court sentenced an Iranian electronics salesman to death Monday after convicting him of espionage, according to a state media report [FNA report]. Ali Ashtari, who was arrested last year, was charged with using his sales connections in the military to pass information on Iran's Atomic Energy Organization [official website, in Persian] to Israeli intelligence agents. Israeli officials denied knowledge of Ashtari's case. Ashtari has 20 days to appeal the ruling. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Last year, Iranian police arrested twenty people [JURIST report] near the Iraqi border on suspicion of participating in an international spy ring. The arrests came several months after the Iranian government first accused four Iranian-Americans [JURIST news archive] of belonging to a US-organized spy network. In May 2007, Iran formally charged [JURIST report] Iranian-American scholar Dr. Haleh Esfandiari [WWC profile] with allegedly plotting "against the sovereignty of the country," and charged Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh [OSI press release] and Radio Farda [media website] correspondent Parnaz Azima with allegedly engaging in an espionage conspiracy [JURIST report]. In June last year, an Iranian judge said that Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh admitted to carrying out some "activities" [JURIST report], although it was unclear if their statements were tantamount to an admission of spying.

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