Index

DATE=5/1/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAN / JEWS (L-2ND UPDATE) NUMBER=2-261882 BYLINE=LISA BRYANT DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: One of 13 Iranian Jews on trial for espionage has told Iran's state-run television that he did spy for Israel. Defendant Hamid Tefilin (also known as Dani) told the interviewer he was trained for espionage during a visit to Israel in 1994 and that he had betrayed his nation. State-run television broadcast the interview after the accused testified in court on the second day of the closed door trial. Lisa Bryant reports from Cairo that a lawyer for the defendants previously denied such allegations. TEXT: A spokesman for the Shiraz revolutionary court told news agencies that the main defendant in the spying trial had confessed to delivering sensitive information to the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. The spokesman said the defendant - who has been variously identified as Dani or Hamid Tefilin - asked the court for clemency. He said Mr. Tefilin's case is, as he put it, finished. The spokesman added that two other defendants had admitted to certain facts linked to charges against them. The judge in the case, Sadeq Nourani, was expected to question a fourth defendant. Mr. Nourani is acting as investigator and prosecutor - as well as judge - in the trial But lawyers for the Iranian Jews have denied the spying charges. The lead defense attorney, Esmail Nasseri, told the New York Times that any statements made under questioning did not amount to proof. Beyond possible statements, he said, no concrete evidence exists of actual espionage. Mr. Nasseri also said he had been able to see his clients only once. One of the defendants told reporters (Monday) that the spying charges against him were unfounded. He added that all those accused have been well treated. The Shiraz trial, which began last month, is the latest chapter in the recent struggle sweeping Iran. During the past 10-days, the conservative Press Court closed more than a dozen reformist newspapers. A number of journalists were arrested on charges of undermining Islamic values and endangering Iran's internal security. Several were imprisoned. Meanwhile, Iranian students have staged small demonstrations across the country to protest the press crackdown. Like the press crackdown, the trial of the Iranian Jews has also raised alarm. Foreign governments and international Jewish and human-rights groups have expressed concern. Critics want international observers to attend the trial, a request Iran has denied. The trial has also traumatized Iran's roughly 30- thousand Jews. The Jewish community is one of the oldest and largest in the Middle East. Those arrested include merchants, teachers, civil servants, and an 11-year-old boy. Their supporters say it is impossible they could have had access to classified information. Iran's President, Mohammed Khatami, has promised a fair trial for the Jews. Shortly before the Jewish Passover celebrations, Shiraz trial judge Nourani reportedly visited 10 of the defendants to wish them a happy holiday. (SIGNED) NEB/LB/GE/RAE 01-May-2000 16:30 PM EDT (01-May-2000 2030 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .