Index

DATE=7/7/2000 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=U-S PRESS HITS IRANIAN SPY TRIAL OF JEWS NUMBER=6-11915 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 CONTENT= INTRO: Daily newspapers throughout the United States are reacting angrily to the guilty verdict handed down by a court in Iran to ten of 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel. We get a sampling now in today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: The internal battle for control in Iran continues. It pits many of the nation's young people who support moderates including the current President Mohammad Khatami, against the hard-line religious clerics personified by Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khamenei. He still controls the military, the police and the court system. It is one of those "revolutionary courts" where the judge serves as prosecutor, judge and jury, which has returned a guilty verdict against ten of 13 Jews accused of espionage for Israel and some other nations. The trial, which several U-S newspapers are calling a fraud, took place in the southern City of Shiraz. The defendants were ordinary citizens, a group made up of students, a university professor, a shopkeeper, some office workers and others, ranging in age from 16 to 48. According to independent news reports, none had access to sensitive government information. Many papers in the United States and around the world consider this a continuation of the harassment against Iranian Jews traceable to the Islamic revolution in 1979. During that time, at least 17 Jews have been summarily executed for such officially described crimes as "spying" or " waging war against God and the country." The sentencing of these latest individuals on the spying charges has brought down a wave of criticism on the Iranian judicial system. Typical is this editorial excerpt from The Los Angeles Times, which calls the trial: VOICE: ... a parody of justice from beginning to end. ... [casting] a chill over the 30- thousand members of a Jewish community whose roots in Iran go back more than two-thousand years. TEXT: Up the California coast, The San Francisco Chronicle is one of several U-S dailies using the term "kangaroo court" [Editors: American slang meaning a court in which the verdict is predetermined, regardless of the facts] to describe the proceedings. VOICE: Iran's swirling politics, pitting hard- liners against reformers, may explain the unfair conviction of ten of 13 Jews accused of spying. Or it may be anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel, or an outrageously low standard of justice. In any case, the kangaroo court verdicts ... have shamed Iran. It wants to emerge from a decades- long shell of religious isolation, but its legal system undercuts this intention. TEXT: Turning to Florida, The Miami Herald is at least pleased the defendants are still alive, having avoided the death penalty that has befallen several other Jews as we mentioned in the introduction. VOICE: Supporters consider it something of a victory that the men are still alive. But the very concept of justice demands these men be exonerated and released. It must not escape the notice of Congress, seemingly poised to lift trade sanctions against Iran, that they haven't. While the United States gravitates toward "engagement" as a more-effective foreign policy than "isolation," to be lifting trade sanctions while these ... lives and President Mohammed Khatami's efforts at reform hang in balance sends a very wrong signal. TEXT: More editorial anger from the Midwest in a recent Chicago Tribune. VOICE: The recent conviction of ten Iranian Jews by a Revolutionary Court in Iran ... has been condemned around the globe as a miscarriage of justice. And by all appearances, it is. Iran would argue otherwise, that the defendants were, in fact, spies. But the rest of the world is supposed to accept Iran's word on that, because absolutely everything about this case is shrouded in mystery. TEXT: The Houston [Texas] Chronicle calls the proceedings a: "Show Trial: [in which] Iran makes [a] mockery of justice, [and] human rights." VOICE: It is recognized that this show trial is part of larger political wrangling within Iran between hard-liners and more moderate elements that would reach out to the outside world. Until human rights are respected and the wrongs represented by this sham of a trial are righted, Iran will remain a political outcast. TEXT: Lastly, The New York Times, calls the guilty verdict for the ten defendants a "Wrongful Verdict" and "a brazen violation of international human rights standards and due process of law." On that note of outrage from one of the nation's most respected dailies, we conclude this sampling of comment on the recent conviction for espionage of ten Jewish citizens in Iran. NEB/ANG/JBM 07-Jul-2000 13:52 PM EDT (07-Jul-2000 1752 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .