Leniency possible in Jewish spy case appeal-Khatami
BERLIN, July 12 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday
defended Iran's conviction of 10 Jews for spying for Israel and suggested
leniency might be shown when the case goes to appeal.
The 10 Iranian Jews were sentenced this month to between four and 13
years in prison after being convicted of providing secret information to
Israel. Two Moslems -- a military officer and a defence contractor -- were
jailed for two years each.
``Justice is not the responsibility of the government,'' Khatami, a
moderate cleric elected in 1997 on a reformist ticket, told a panel discussion
in the east German town of Weimar at the end of a three-day visit to Germany.
Khatami, whose reform efforts have been hampered by an isolationist
Islamic elite which may have gained the upper hand in recent months, also
said the convicted had not been treated differently because they were Jews.
``The judgment was much milder than in other spying cases,'' he said.
``After the appeal the situation of those condemned might be better than
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder raised human rights in Iran, including
the spy trial, in private talks with Khatami after their main meeting on
But he refrained from using strong words in public. Khatami's ability
to influence Iran's conservative-dominated justice system is seen as slight
in the continiung power struggle.
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against Khatami in Berlin on Tuesday.
One banner said: ``No political judgment in Iran. Freedom for the 10 Jews
and two Muslims.''