A CLERIC JUDGE SAYS ARRESTED IRANIAN JEWS ARE ISRAELI SPIES
A CLERIC JUDGE SAYS ARRESTED IRANIAN JEWS ARE ISRAELI SPIES
PARIS-TEHRAN 13 Sept. (IPS) An Islamic judge said Sunday that
there are "irrefutable evidence" against 13 Iranian Jews arrested last
February on charges of spying for Israel.
Hojatoleslam Qolamhossein Rahbarpour, the Head of Tehran Islamic
revolution court said the Iranian authorities have "not the slightest
doubt" that the arrested Jews were spying for the Zionist regime and the
veracity of the charges have convinced all the officials.
His remarks were an indirect answer to newspaper reports that
President Khatami had charged a special committee to review the
"It is certain that those people are spies and the documents
obtained by Fars Department of Information are strong and sufficient
enough" Mr. Rahbarpourhe told the hard line daily "Jomhuri
Eslami" that belongs to ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the
conservative leader of the Islamic Republic.
Reacting for the first time publicly to the news, Mr. Manouchehr
Eliasi, the sole MP representing the 30.000 strong Iranian Jewry
told the Majles (parliament) that Jewish community was fearful
over the outcome of the case against the accused.
The men, most of them synagogue servicemen, religious teachers,
rabbis and cemetery attendants are members of an ultra-orthodox Iranian
Jewish sect based in the Southern city of Shiraz, the capital city of
the Fars province.
They had been arrested last February, but the case surfaced first in
France in June after all secret negotiations between the community's
representatives both inside and outside the country with the clerical
authorities failed to produce result.
A source close to the community and to the case told IPS that he
could not understand the behaviour of the Iranian authorities since
relations between the Jews and the ruling mullahs has always been
cordial, helping difficulties to be solved in friendly atmosphere.
The arrest of the Jews created outcry in the world. Violent
anti-Iranian demonstrations were organised in France by the French
Jewish and rights organisations.
Iranian authorities strongly denied that the arrest were motivated by
religious ground, observing that like other official religious
minorities, the Iranian Jews were represented in the Parliament and are
participating actively in the political and economic life of the nation,
where they have lived for the past 4500 years.
"The arrest of several members of the Jewish community has aroused
anguish and worry among Iranian Jews," Manushehr Eliasi told fellow MPs,
adding that Iran's Jews were hoping for a "just outcome to this
Mr. Eliasi also accused the international media of "exaggeration",
saying by exaggerating the facts, the foreign media is seeking to attack
our national unity," he said without elaborating.
"I hope that the judicial authorities will examine the matter as
quickly as they can while respecting the legal rights of the accused and
deliver a just verdict in order to dispel the anxieties of my
constituency", Mr. Eliasi further said.
"The Zionist regime was definitely involved in the spying," Mr.
Rahbarpour said, repeating the charges that the defendants had
dispatched "members of their network abroad for training" and helped
"some Iranians to illegally leave the country."
But informed and independent Jewish sources refuted the
allegations, observing that members of the sect were strictly forbidden
from engaging in political activities.
He also repeated earlier allegations by other hard line clerics that
Israel has a "well-organised spy ring" based in the Islamic Republic,
using the Iranian Jewish community.
"The espionage network involving the arrested suspects was very
complicated. The 13 had been relaying information from their espionage
activities "through advanced communications devices" the Islamic judge
said without elaborating further.
"This is why the investigations have taken a lot of time", he
Observers noted the Iranian cleric's tendency for exaggeration,
obsessed with pretentiousness that whatever they deal with is "very
Two months ago, when they freed three Italians who had been taken
hostage by Iranian tribesmen, they said they obtained the kidnappers
freedom after a series of highly complicated operations.
They repeated the same theory ten days ago after three Spaniards, one
Italian and their Iranian translator were freed by their kidnappers.
But, as it turned out, the very highly complicated operations were
nothing but bowing to the abductors demand for money and the release of
their relatives from Iranian jails.
Both Israel and the United States repeatedly denied having any
link wit the arrested men and called on the Iranian authorities to
"It's as if we had asked the United States to free people in their
country charged with espionage before they had even gone to trial,"
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi observed,
accusing Washington of meddling in Iranian internal affairs.
In another development, the same Mr. Asefi dismissed as "biased
and baseless" a U.S. human rights report which criticised Iran for
"The U.S. State Department has circulated a biased and unjust
view on the status of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of
Iran. This is an indication of its ignorance of human rights in this
country," Asefi said, without mentioning that the report was namely
talking about the Iranian Baha'i.
Contrary to the Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians that are
officially recognised in the Islamic-inspired Iranian Constitution, the
250.000 to 300.000 Iranian Baha'i have no rights at all, they are not
allowed in the Administration or the armies, their children can not
attend public schools or enter universities, their temples are
systematically destroyed and the faithful randomly arrested.
"Iran adheres to the religious beliefs and Islamic teachings
which not only fully supports human rights of Iranian Moslems but also
thoroughly observes the rights of religious minorities," Asefi said.
Next to the Baha'i, the Iranian Sunni Muslims who makes one third
of the 65 millions inhabitants are also subject to systematic
discrimination, with their mosques, books and schools being burned and
destroyed by the authorities.
ENDS JEWS ARRESTED 13999
©Copyright 1999, Iran News Service
Page last updated/revised 011400
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page