Iran General NewsIran arrests 2 Chinese on charges of spying

Iran arrests 2 Chinese on charges of spying

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New York Times: Iran has arrested two Chinese citizens on charges of spying for taking pictures of a military complex in the central city of Arak, where Iran is building a nuclear reactor, the judiciary spokesman said Wednesday. The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI
Published: August 16, 2007

TEHRAN, Aug. 15 — Iran has arrested two Chinese citizens on charges of spying for taking pictures of a military complex in the central city of Arak, where Iran is building a nuclear reactor, the judiciary spokesman said Wednesday.

“The Chinese nationals were detained while photographing and recording video of a military complex in Arak city,” said the spokesman, Alireza Jamshidi, according to the news agency ISNA. Mr. Jamshidi said the two had entered the country at Kish Island, a resort island in southern Iran on the Persian Gulf.

Mr. Jamshidi said their case was under initial investigation at a court in Arak, but he would not give further details about the arrest or the suspects’ identities.

The heavy-water reactor in Arak is one of the Iranian nuclear facilities that have been criticized by Western nations, and the government recently reversed its refusal to allow inspectors at the site. Iran insists that the reactor is only for peaceful purposes, but the reactor would eventually be capable of producing plutonium, which the United States and other countries say is a crucial part of a drive by Iran to make nuclear weapons.

China and Iran have generally had solid economic and political ties. And while China was one of the United Nations Security Council members to vote in favor of economic sanctions because Iran would not stop enriching uranium, it has often balked at imposing or enforcing harsher penalties.

In a separate case involving detainees, Mr. Jamshidi, who was speaking at a news conference, said the release of the two Iranian-Americans who have been in custody since May would depend on the opinion of the judge after formal accusations were made.

The two detainees — Haleh Esfandiari, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, and Kian Tajbakhsh, an urban planner with ties to the Open Society Institute, a pro-democracy policy planning organization financed by George Soros — were arrested on espionage charges more than three months ago. A senior judiciary official said Sunday that the investigation into their case had been completed, pending “some written work.”

“We have to wait for the indictment and the referral of the case to court,” Mr. Jamshidi said Wednesday, according to ISNA. “The decision to release them depends on the judge during the trial.”

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