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Iran ex-president son denies being charged with spying

TEHRAN (AFP) — The jailed son of Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani denies reports that he has been charged with spying, the Mehr news agency quoted his lawyer as saying on Friday.

"Unfortunately a news agency and two news sites reported some allegations against Mehdi (Hashemi)," lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabee said.

"My client saw the reports. He said that the allegations are not valid," the lawyer said, adding that he had been instructed to lodge a complaint in the media court.

The Fars news agency reported on Thursday that Hashemi had been accused "of spying and of having provided sensitive information to foreigners."

Hashemi, who was arrested in late September when he returned from three years living in Britain, is accused of seeking to disrupt the economy and of corruption linked to oil contracts signed during his father's presidency between 1989 and 1997.

He is also accused of having undermined national security during protests that broke out after the disputed 2008 re-election of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Tehran had issued a warrant for his arrest in 2010.

Just days prior to his arrest, his sister, Faezeh Hashemi, was also detained and jailed for "propaganda against the regime" in line with a court decision earlier this year sentencing her to six months in jail.

Both siblings were accused by authorities of involvement in 2009 street protests that erupted after Ahmadinejad was given a second term in elections that the opposition said were marked by electoral fraud.

Faezeh Hashemi was briefly arrested with thousands of others after those demonstrations, while her brother fled abroad.

Their father, an influential cleric, is seen as a moderate voice isolated by hardliners in Iran's regime.

Rafsanjani, who still heads the country's top political arbitration body, has faced demands from conservatives that he publicly condemn opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both of whom are under house arrest.