Freed Iranian Jew Doing Well
Mar. 07, 2001
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ The first of 10 Iranian Jews released after serving a jail term for spying spent his first day of freedom in two years praying and visiting with friends and family, a Jewish community leader said Wednesday.
Ramin Nematizadeh, convicted last summer of spying for Israel, was freed late Monday from a prison in Shiraz, capital of Fars province. Well-wishers brought him flowers and candy, said Eshaq Niknava, a leader of Shiraz's small Jewish community.
``Ramin was very well. He had nothing to complain about and was in high spirits,'' Niknava said by telephone from southern Iran.
``His parents looked very happy. He had his first lunch at home in two years on Tuesday, along with his family and about 30 or 40 other relatives and friends'' and later went to a synagogue to pray, Niknava said.
Nematizadeh, a shop clerk in his late 20s, confessed in court to gathering military information during mandatory army service and sending it to Israel. He was sentenced in July to four years in prison. Nine others received longer sentences.
In September, an appeals court revised the convictions and reduced the sentences, which originally ranged from four to 13 years. Nematizadeh's sentence was reduced to two years, and he was released two weeks early because of the Eid al-Adha holiday, Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency said.
Human rights groups have questioned the fairness of the initial trial, which was held behind closed doors, without a jury and with the judge acting as prosecutor.
The United States and Israel, which denies that the men were spies, have pushed to have the convictions overturned.
Iranian Jews are allowed to practice most aspects of their religion freely, but like all Iranians are forbidden contact with Israel, Iran's archenemy.
With a Jewish population of about 25,000, Iran has the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel.