Iranian court sentences 'Israeli spy' to death

Ali Ashtari convicted of "relaying sensitive info on military, defense and research centers" to Mossad.

ali ashtari 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ali ashtari 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An Iranian court on Monday sentenced an Iranian man to death for allegedly spying for Israel. The Iranian FARS news agency reported that Ali Ashtari was accused of "jeopardizing Iranian security" and of receiving payment from the Mossad. "Ali Ashtari, who was accused of spying for the Zionist state and for the Mossad, was sentenced to death," the report said. The 45-year-old is a tradesman in electronic merchandise who supplied military, security and defense centers across the country with electronic devices. In Israel, the Prime Minister's Office said that it "had no knowledge of the case," and a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said that Israel had no reaction to the matter. Iran's state TV quoted an unnamed official as saying Ashtari "relayed sensitive information on military, defense and research centers" to Mossad intelligence officers. The material reportedly included information on Iran's Atomic Energy Organization. The official also said Ashtari, who was arrested in 2007, tried to "create a link" between Iranian experts and Israeli agents. The name of the suspected spy was kept secret until Monday morning, when the death sentence was meted out. On Saturday, Ashtari appeared in court to face charges of spying for Israel in exchange for money. According to Iranian media reports, the presiding judge was shown "spying equipment" which the prosecution claims was provided by the Mossad. Iranian television broadcasted footage of Ashtari as he was being led to court. During the deliberation, Ashtari's attorney claimed that his client was innocent. Ashtari has 20 days to appeal. In 2000, Iranian authorities arrested 10 Jews, convicted them of spying for Israel and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. An appeals court later reduced their sentences under international pressure and eventually freed them. Herb Keinon contributed to this report