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Final Defense in Iran Spy Case

June 6, 2000

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ In their final defense, lawyers for 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel called on the state Tuesday either to provide evidence for its claims or acquit the defendants.

In a 26-page document the lawyers demanded that ``our clients be acquitted because in the end the prosecution could not prove any acts of espionage by the defendants,″ Esmail Naseri, spokesman for the five-man defense team, told The Associated Press.

Eight of the 13 Jewish defendants have pleaded guilty, four have pleaded innocent and one has said he passed information to Israel but did not think that his action constituted espionage.

Israel has denied that any of the 13 Jews were its spies. The United States has voiced concern over the fairness of the closed-door trial _ the judge also serves as the prosecutor, and there is no jury _ and has said the outcome could affect its policy toward Iran.

The crux of the defense has been that according to the law the state must show that secret documents actually changed hands to meet the legal standard for espionage.

``We repeated that confessions made in prison are invalid, and that if the court claims the defendants are spies then it must show evidence,″ Naseri said.

Naseri called on the court to expedite the verdict. Under the law, the court must issue its ruling one week after ending the proceedings.

Eight Muslims also are on trial in the same case, including two who have been detained for passing secret information to the Jews.

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