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Iranian Jews critical of outside support for spying suspects

TEHRAN, June 13 (AFP) - Statements of international support for 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying are "propaganda," according to a communique published Sunday by the official IRNA news agency and attributed to the country's Jewish community.

Sympathetic remarks from abroad are "simply hostile propaganda irrelevant to the true interests and concerns of the Jewish Iranians," the communique said.

Iranian Jews, who "have historically been loyal to the people and government of Iran," feel "sorrow over the incident."

But they are "confident that justice would be done with due respect to the rights of the accused," it said.

"Such incidents may happen in any part of the world," the statement said, adding: "Provocative propaganda of the enemies of the country in or outside of Iran would not affect either way the eventual judgment of the Iranian courts."

The document was signed by Jewish community leaders in Iran including Rabbi Yussef Hamedani Kohan; Jewish member of parliament Manushehr Eliassi; and Harun Yashaya-ee, a member of the Society of Iranian Jews' board of directors, IRNA said.

The 13 Iranian Jews were arrested more than two months ago in the southern cities of Shiraz and Isfahan. They have been accused of spying for Israel and are due to be tried in Islamic courts, where they face the death penalty if convicted.

Israel has categorically denied that the arrested Jews, who include rabbis and teachers, had any links to Israeli intelligence agencies.

An estimated 25,000 Jews live in Iran, compared to some 100,000 prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution, when Israel maintained warm relations with the regime of Shah Reza Pahlavi.


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