Iranian sentenced to death for spying for IsraelA 45-year old Iranian electronics merchant, who did business with the country's military and security services, has been sentenced to death for spying for Israel.
The Iranian FARS news agency reported that Ali Ashtari was accused of "jeopardizing Iranian security." He was also accused of receiving payment from the Mossad.Ashtari was also accused of giving out information regarding Iran's nuclear installations. His name was not disclosed until he was sentenced to death on Monday morning.
"Ali Ashtari, who was accused of spying for the Zionist state and for the Mossad was sentenced to death," the report said.
Iran's state TV quoted an unnamed official as saying Ashtari "relayed sensitive information on military, defense and research centers" to Mossad intelligence officers.
On Saturday, Ashtari appeared in court to face charges of spying for Israel in exchange for money. According to Iranian media reports, the presiding judge was shown "spying equipment" which the prosecution claims was provided by the Mossad.There is no mention of whether or not Ashtari (pictured at right) is Jewish.
Iranian television broadcasted footage of Ashtari as he was being led to court.
During the deliberation, Ashtari's attorney claimed that his client was innocent. Ashtari has 20 days to appeal.
The sentence against Ali Ashtari, 43, who was arrested one and a half years ago, was handed down by a revolutionary court and the accused can still appeal the verdict, the [FARS news] agency said.AFP adds:
"The revolutionary court has found Ali Ashtari -- a spy of the Zionist regime -- to be mohareb (an enemy of god) and sentenced him to death," Fars quoted an unnamed intelligence official as saying.
"This is an initial verdict and should receive final approval. The defendant can appeal," the official added.
According to Ashtari's "confession", published in full by Fars, he was a salesman of telecoms equipment which sought to help the Israeli intelligence service Mossad access secret information from Iranian officials.While I have no doubt that Israel has spies in Iran, I have my doubts this is one of them.
Mossad gave him 50,000 dollars to buy Internet cables and satellite phones and then sell them on to "special customers" in the hope of enabling Israel to spy on their communications.
His handlers "introduced themselves as Jacques, Charles and Tony," Ashtari said.
"I had meetings in Thailand, Turkey and Switzerland with them. They gave me some equipment including a laptop through which I could send encrypted emails," he said.
They wanted "me to sell these terminals in Iran to my special customers so they could hack into this equipment.
"I am not sure what they intended to do as before I sold these to my customers I was arrested," he added.