Iran on Thursday said it has arrested more suspects in a nuclear espionage case, a day after a former nuclear official was accused of handing over atomic secrets to Britain. “In the case of nuclear espionage, other people have been identified and arrested,” said Iran’s prosecutor general Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi.
The intelligence ministry said on Wednesday that former negotiator Hossein Moussavian, who was briefly detained in May on national security charges, was charged with passing classified information to the British embassy in Tehran.
Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ezhehee said that in the eyes of his ministry Moussavian was a criminal whose case “was proven”. He also accused unnamed “influential people” of trying to seek his acquittal.
No further details were given on the new arrests.
“In the case of Hossein Moussavian… only judicial officials can give a verdict,” he said. “The court must give its verdict on the basis of sufficient proof.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday the judge verifying Moussavian’s case was heavily pressured by some of his political foes to exonerate the spy and dismiss the case.
Ahmadinejad said some of his political opponents inside the country had sent certain individuals abroad to leak Iran’s nuclear and political information to the enemies of the Iranian nation in their weekly meetings in a bid to break the resolve of his administration and face him with a defeat.
“But now that these individuals have been summoned to the court to be tried for their actions, some have laid a heavy pressure on the judge to exonerate the spy,” he said.
Ezhehee confirmed Ahmadinejad’s remarks, saying that “the judge has been contacted to exonerate the nuclear spy.”
“Influential individuals have summoned the judge and strove to exonerate the nuclear spy several times,” he added, warning the said individuals to keep away from Moussavian’s case.
“We believe he (Moussavian) is a criminal,” the intelligence minister reiterated.
Iran’s former senior negotiator in nuclear talks with the West Hossein Moussavian was freed after paying bail of 2 bln rials (215,000 dollars) in May.
Moussavian, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator that served under reformist president Mohammad Khatami to 2005, was arrested on April 30. He also served as ambassador to Germany under Rafsanjani.
Earlier a source told FNA that Moussavian “has expressed sorrow and remorse over his deeds”.
It said the Moussavian’s accusations “are not related to today or yesterday but have to do with (actions) many years ago”.
Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ezhehee had also earlier said that two other unnamed individuals had been summoned for questioning by intelligence agents in connection with the case.
FNA’s source said that one of the individuals – both of whom worked for security bodies – had been released on bail. It did not give details over the fate of the other suspect.
Prior to his detention, Moussavian was deputy head of the Strategic Research center belonging to the Expediency Council, Iran’s top political arbitration body which is headed by Rafsanjani himself.
The head of the Strategic Studies Centre is Hassan Rowhani, a moderate cleric who until 2005 was Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary under Khatami.
Since Moussavian has been charged with spying on Iran’s nuclear programs and activities, his case is verified at the Revolutionary Court and under Tehran’s deputy prosecutor general for security affairs.