Iran opens trial of 3 Americans on spy charges

February 6, 2011 21:02

TEHERAN, Iran — Two Americans accused of spying appeared in a closed-door Iranian court session Sunday to begin trial after an 18-month detention that has brought impassioned family appeals, a stunning bail deal to free their companion and backdoor diplomatic outreach by Washington through an Arab ally in the Gulf.

All three — two in person and one in absentia — entered not guilty pleas during the five-hour hearing, said their lawyer, Masoud Shafiei.

He added that he was barred by Iranian law from giving any further details of the proceedings. But he noted that the judge decided for at least one more session in Tehran Revolutionary Court, which deals with state security cases including some of the high-profile opposition figures arrested in the violent aftermath of Iran's disputed election in 2009.

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