IRAN: 26 alleged U.S. intelligence operatives to be tried in absentia
Iran plans to try 26 alleged American intelligence officials in absentia, raising the possibility that it will out U.S. spies who Tehran claims attempted to recruit Iranians as part of a sophisticated intelligence-gathering operation.
Iranian lawmaker Esmail Kowsar (pictured) said Sunday that Parliament will discuss the matter when it reconvenes.
"The plan for arresting and punishing 26 American officials will be discussed in the Parliament's open session after the parliamentary recess and following the approval of parliamentarians," he was quoted as saying Sunday by the Tabnak news agency (link in Persian).
"Those American officials will be judged in absentia by Iranian courts and will be presented to the competent international courts."
Iranian officials frequently accuse foreign spies of attempting to infiltrate the nation's institutions, periodically bringing out some political prisoner from solitary confinement to confess publicly to collaborating with the enemy.
But the level of detail in the latest alleged plot, involving employment recruitment agencies based abroad, was unusual and appeared to jibe with generally understood Western tradecraft and policy goals, which include aggressively gathering intelligence on the country's nuclear research program.
Iranian officials claim to have the handles and descriptions of the Americans they say are involved in the alleged operation.
-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut
Photo: Esmail Kowsari. Credit: Press TV