Islamic Court Convicts 10 Iranian Jews of Spying for Israel Clinton Decries 'Seriously Flawed' Judicial Process

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SHIRAZ, Iran -- Ten Iranian Jews were convicted yesterday of spying for Israel and sentenced to prison terms of four to 13 years, while three others were acquitted, the leading defense lawyer said.

Israel, which denied the accused were its agents, protested the verdicts and sentences, as did Jewish groups in the United States.

Relatives of the accused -- who arrived at the courthouse in Shiraz on foot because of the Jewish Sabbath -- howled in anguish. One family member fainted.

In Washington, President Clinton said he was deeply concerned by the convictions and noted that the United States Human Rights Commission has denounced the judicial process by which the 13 Iranian Jews were tried as "seriously flawed."

"We have raised our concerns time and again, when the Iranian government has treated intellectuals, journalists, Muslim clerics and members of the Baha'i community with the same fundamental unfairness," Clinton said.

Hossein Ali Amiri, the judiciary chief of Fars province, said two Muslim suspects received sentences similar to those given the Jews, while two other Muslims were acquitted. Little information has been released about the Muslims involved.

The charges on which the defendants were convicted included "cooperating with a hostile government, membership in an illegal [spy] ring and recruitment of new agents," Esmail Naseri, the Jews' defense attorney, said.

In all, eight defendants confessed and pleaded guilty, four pleaded innocent and one acknowledged passing information but maintained his action did not constitute espionage. …