A group of Iranian environmentalists working on Asiatic cheetah preservation with the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation felt a pang of alarm. Thomas S. Kaplan, a billionaire precious metals investor then best known for his fine art collection, had just made a surprise public appearance in New York at the annual conference of United Against Nuclear Iran. The Iranian environmentalists were concerned because their group had gotten aid from one of Kaplan’s nonpolitical charities. Now, he was speaking before a group that was extremely hostile to their country.
They were right to be alarmed. Within a few months, several of the group’s members would find themselves behind bars — hit with espionage charges by Iran’s notorious judiciary.
Last week, in a closed-door trial that has been criticized for violating due process standards, eight defendants were found guilty on charges of collaborating with an “enemy state,” according to the Washington Post. Six of the eight were sentenced to…[more]