Iran environmentalists accused of ‘spying’ appear in court

TEHRAN (AFP) – Eight environmentalists accused of “spying” on Iranian military bases appeared in court yesterday for a closed-door trial, the official news agency IRNA reported.

“The environmentalists were summoned to the court,” Mohammad-Hossein Aghasi, a representative of the accused, told IRNA.

Aghasi, however, was not present in court as the state designated its own hand-picked lawyers to represent the defendants, IRNA reported.

“I, as the lawyer of Sam Rajabi, one of those accused in the case, was not invited to the trial,” Aghasi was quoted as saying.

Aghasi told AFP that he was “puzzled” by the court’s decision since “the court should never oppose the lawyer chosen by the accused”.

Defendants he represents were told that they should change their lawyer, he said.

Four of the environmentalists were accused in October of “corruption on earth” – a charge that can carry the death sentence in Iran.