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Iranian hanged as admitted spy for Israel, Tehran says

German detainees allowed to visit with relatives

Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., yesterday denounced Iran’s execution of a government opponent in a Tehran prison. Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., yesterday denounced Iran’s execution of a government opponent in a Tehran prison. (Nicholas Kamm/ AFP/ Getty Images)
By Nasser Karimi
Associated Press / December 29, 2010

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TEHRAN — Iran yesterday hanged an Iranian convicted of spying for the country’s archenemy, Israel, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Ali Akbar Siadat had been accused of providing Israel with classified information on Iran’s military capabilities, including details about military maneuvers, bases, operational jet fighters, military flights, air crashes, and missiles, IRNA reported.

Separately, another Iranian was hanged yesterday for membership in an exile opposition movement, IRNA reported.

Over the past decade, Iran has stepped up its domestic military production, including missiles capable of reaching Israel and beyond — aiming, Tehran says, to defend the country from Israel and the United States amid Iranian concern they might strike its nuclear facilities.

According to IRNA, Siadat confessed to spying for Israel starting in 2004 in return for $60,000, as well as an additional $7,000 each time he met with Israeli officials. IRNA said he connected with Israeli intelligence agents during “foreign trade’’ trips to Turkey, Thailand, and the Netherlands, and transferred data through a digital camera, transmitters and a laptop.

IRNA reported that Siadat was arrested in 2008 while planning to flee Iran. There were no details on whether he was a government employee or how he obtained the classified information.

There was no comment on the execution from officials in Israel.

IRNA said Siadat was hanged in Tehran’s Evin prison. Earlier in the week, Iran’s judiciary announced that a spy for Israel would be executed soon after an appeals court confirmed his death sentence under Iranian law. It said the trial was held in the presence of his lawyer.

Iran and Israel have been enemies since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, with Tehran periodically announcing arrests of suspected spies for Israel.

In 2008, Iran executed Ali Ashtari, an electronics salesman who was convicted of relaying information on Iran’s nuclear program and other sensitive data to Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

And after a closed-door trial in 2000, a court convicted 10 Iranian Jews of spying for Israel and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. All were released early after international pressure.

Iran faces increased pressure from the West over its nuclear program, which Israel, the United States, and others contend is intended for nuclear weapons-making. Tehran insists the program is for peaceful purposes only, such as generating power.

In addition, the New York Times reported that Iran has allowed relatives to visit two German journalists who were detained in October as they presumably sought to report the widely publicized case of an Iranian woman who could be stoned to death for adultery. The report cited Iranian media and German officials.

It was not immediately clear whether Iran intended the encounter as a political overture to Germany, which is one of the outside powers negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear program. The meeting was held Monday night in the city of Tabriz, where the two Germans are detained.

German news reports quoted an Iranian official yesterday as dampening speculation that the meeting would soon lead to the release of the two journalists, who were working for the newspaper Bild am Sonntag. A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, said that Iran had acted on “purely humanitarian grounds’’ to permit the meeting with relatives, but that the journalists’ fate remained to be determined by the judiciary.

Apart from the two Germans, Iran is holding two US citizens, Shane M. Bauer and Joshua F. Fattal, both 28, who were arrested in July 2009 while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan, near the Iranian border. Their companion, Sarah E. Shourd, 32, was released on bail in September, in what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran described as a “huge humanitarian gesture.’’

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