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Teen among 13 Jews facing execution for spying in Iran

PARIS, June 17 (AFP) - A 16-year-old adolescent is among 13 Iranian Jews facing trial and possible execution in Iran on charges of spying for Israel, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) said Thursday.

The teen is Navid Balazade, according to a CRIF statement.

"The CRIF asks authorities in all countries that have maintained ties with Iran, and more particularly French leaders, to do everything in their power to secure the release of the arrested prisoners," CRIF president Henri Hajdenberg said.

Hajdenberg said he was "all the more preoccupied" since Iran's new penal code, which went into force in 1996, calls explicitly for the death penalty for people convicted of spying for the United States and Israel.

He recalled that "that several members of the Jewish community in Iran have been executed in recent years on similar charges, the latest being a 60-year old Jew who was hanged June 2, 1998, in Tehran."

According to Hajdenberg, "the Jewish community's concerns have grown since the publication (Wednesday) of Amnesty International's annual report, which shows that hundreds of people are detained in Iran, some without trial or indictment."

The report also describes "torture" and sentences consisting of "whippings and stonings."

The CRIF called on "all political parties, unions and humanitarian organisations to join" a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in Paris on June 22 to save the Iranian Jews.

The 13 were arrested more than two months ago in the southern cities of Shiraz and Isfahan on charges of spying for Israel. They are accused of being part of an "organised espionage network" and of "acting against national security."

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

On Tuesday, French politicians and religious leaders on Tuesday issued a petition appealing for the release of the Jews.


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