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Iran will respect legal rights of accused spies

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Iran will respect the legal rights of 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel and the United States, the foreign minister said Thursday.

"They can have lawyers, and all the legal procedures will be observed," Kamal Kharrazi said in a weekly political program on state-run Iranian television.

"Their families can visit them."

Last week, U.S. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said none of the 13 has had access to counsel. The United States and Israel have denied any were spying for them.

In addition to the 13 Jews, Kharrazi said there also were Muslim suspects in the case.

The broadcast was monitored in Dubai.

A trial date has not been set, though proceedings were expected to begin soon. Espionage in Iran is punishable by death. In 1997, Iran hanged two people convicted of spying for Israel and the United States.

There are about 25,000 Jews in Iran .

Although allowed to practice aspects of their religion, they are forbidden to teach Hebrew, the liturgical language.


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