Iran 'show' trial escalates standoff
It put a French academic on trial Saturday and confirmed that it had transferred to Tehran three Americans detained on the Iran-Iraq border.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Iran escalated its standoff with the West as it put a French academic on trial Saturday and confirmed that it had transferred to Tehran three Americans detained on the Iran-Iraq border.Skip to next paragraph
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The trial, which began last Saturday, is targeting the role of foreign powers. Alongside French national Clotilde Reiss in the courtroom were dozens of new defendants, among them reformist politicians and two local workers for the British and French embassies in Tehran. They stand accused of fomenting a "velvet revolution" in the aftermath of the controversial June 12 presidential elections in Iran.
“The focus is now on incriminating Western governments and companies,” says Mehrdad Boroujerdi, the director of Middle East Studies at Syracuse University in New York. “Bringing out the British Embassy worker is part of trying to substantiate their charges and show that this is all part of a Western conspiracy, with Facebook and Twitter playing roles."
The three Americans were arrested on July 31 while reportedly hiking in a natural resort in northeastern Iraq’s mountainous border area with Iran. After being held for some days in the border town of Marivan, a provincial administrative center, they were moved to Tehran, according to an ABC News story quoting a State Department official.
The transfer may suggest an escalation in their case. Iranian parliamentarian Hussein Sobhani-Nia told the Iranian state-run broadcaster that he would be convening a meeting tomorrow of the Majles commission on national security and foreign relations to discuss their fate.
“Certainly it’s going to signal that they’ll be holding them as a bargaining chip,” says Mr. Boroujerdi. “Even though they will eventually be released, Tehran will try to capitalize as much as possible and extract some concessions out of the United States."