American free-lance journalist Cynthia Dwyer fell into an espionage trap laid for her by Iranian revolutionary authorities, according to a press report published in Iran.
Mrs. Dwyer was tried Feb. 4 on charges of having attempted to secure arms from the United States for a counterrevolutionary group was invented by her captors as part of a trap laid for her toward the end of April last year.
The report in Jamhuri Islami, which is owned by Iran's ruling Islamic Republican Party, appeared last year. But it has not been denied and is thought in Tehran to have been substantially correct. A Swiss Embassy official, when asked whether any charges were brought against Mrs. Dwyer other than those reported in the newspaper, responded with a "no comment."
The Iranian newspaper reported that a man claiming to be a member of an armed counterrevolutionary group had a number of meetings with Mrs. Dwyer before her arrest. According to this report, he told her his group, based in Mashad, near the Afghan border, wished to get arms from the United States and asked if she would help. Mrs. Dwyer allegedly agreed to get in touch with Washington.
A room in the Tehran Hilton Hotel was put at her disposal. From there, the Jamhuri Islami newspaper report said, she telephoned Max McCarthy, who had been press attache in Tehran briefly during the Shah's regime at the same time that former CIA director Richard Helms was ambassador.
Unaware that her telephone was being tapped from another room in the hotel, Mrs. Dwyer reportedly told Mr. McCarthy of the group's that he would get in touch with the relevant US authorities and call her back.
When he made contact again, he allegedly told her that the arms could be sent by helicopter to the group. Her Iran counterrevolutionary contact then asked for a radio frequency on which the group could get in touch with the helicopter. Mr. McCarthy, according to the newspaper report, responded by asking for the group's frequency.
The account said Mrs. Dwyer got the frequency and passed it on. Shortly afterward, it said, Mr. McCarthy came back on the line and asked her to leave Iran as quickly as possible. She was arrested last May 5 as she tried to leave the hotel.
Her arrest and imprisonment, however, were overshadowed by the hostage crisis in Iran. The arrest itself occurred shortly after the unsuccessful US rescue mission. The timing of her trial this past week, so soon after the return home of the hostages, suggests that it was held up until the other 52 Americans were freed.
The trial lasted just one day -- "from morning until about 5 p.m.," according to a Swiss Embassy source. It was totally unreported in the Iranian news media.
The Swiss source refused to divulge any further information about the trial. "It is a very delicate matter, you will understand," he said. He also was unable to say what the verdict would be. (Three possibilities are that she could be set free, given a jail term, or executed by a firing squad.)
Mrs. Dwyer is the first US citizen to be tried in Iran since the revolution two years ago. She probably also is the first since the Shah signed an agreement with the United States in 1963 under which Iranian courts did not have the jurisdiction to try US servicemen.
Mrs. Dwyer was held in Tehran's Evin Prison and during the past nine months was permitted few, if any, visitors. Her meeting with a Swiss diplomat Feb. 4 is believed to have been one of t he first since her arrest last year.