London, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Iranian judiciary announced yesterday that charges of espionage and the keeping of confidential documents have been dropped against Hossein Mousavian, a decision considered by some as a victory for Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of the Assembly of Experts over the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mousavian was a deputy of the top nuclear negotiator under reformist former President Mohammad Khatami.
Ali Reza Jamshidi, a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary stated that Mousavian “had been accused of spying, keeping confidential documents and propaganda against the system. He has been acquitted of the first two charges and has been found guilty of the third charge.” He added that the court suspended a sentence against him. A sentence, however, cannot be ruled out if the prosecution objects to the court decision, Jamshidi said.
These developments came shortly after a request made by government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham for “an open trial for the nuclear spy” indicating disputes between the government and the judiciary and the offices of Khamenei and Rafsanjani on this matter. “The judiciary and the judges are independent and we believe that there must be open trial for the nuclear spy to clarify the situation,” added Elham.
According to the Iranian Defence Minister, Mostafa Mohammed Najjar, Iran is developing a 2000-kilometer range missile and the navy will receive a new Iranian submarine Wednesday. France expressed its concerns about these recent developments.
An Iranian source told Asharq Al Awsat that Mousavian, the moderate negotiator who worked with Hassan Rowhani, former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, fell “victim” to tensions between political wings and that the accusations of espionage for the British Embassy may have emerged because he travelled to London on many occasions to take part in conferences and seminars at the London School of Economics.
After it was announced that the charges for espionage against Mousavian would be dropped, hard-line Islamist students protested against the decision in front of the judiciary’s headquarters.