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Iran Prosecutor Says Imprisoned Ecologists Were 'Israeli, US' Agents

Iran -- Attorney General, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri speaking in a meeting, undated.

Iran’s attorney general has said that imprisoned ecologists were agents of influence for Israel and the United States and there are documents proving the charge.

Tasnim new agency linked to the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps quotes Mohammad Ja’afar Montazeri as saying that infiltrating environmentalist circles by Israel and the U.S. was always on the radar, especially that ecologists could go to “sensitive and vital locations” in the country and place their cameras with the pretense of protecting animals.

“Agents of influence among ecologists were arrested and unfortunately some defended them but documents showing their infiltration is all available.”

The Islamic Republic arrested eight environmental experts in animal protection in January and accused them of spying. It is not clear who exactly arrested them, but it is clear it was not the intelligence ministry, which is the sole official organ to pursue cases of espionage. Journalists, activists and the defense lawyer say that the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) must be responsible for the arrests.

The Intelligence Ministry in May was quoted as saying that its investigation has found no proof of espionage by detained ecologists.

Among the detainees was Iranian-Canadian founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Professor Kavous Seyyed-Emami, who was detained alongside the eight ecologists, mysteriously died last January in Tehran's infamous Evin prison.

The authorities maintain that 63-year old Seyyed-Emami committed suicide behind bars, an allegation categorically denied by the environmentalist's relatives.

In October, The Tehran prosecutor confirmed that four of the eight detained Iranian environmentalists have been charged with "corruption on Earth", which could be punishable by death.

But despite pressure by Canada, international organizations and some Iran parliamentarians, no trials have been held for ten months.

On November 9 the head of the Judiciary in Tehran province said that indictments against the detained environmentalists have been delivered to the "Revolution Court" and the specific court for their trial has been selected. There has been no news about the trial since this announcement.