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U.S. urges Tehran to release U.S.-Iranian scholar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday urged Tehran to release Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, who was sentenced to at least 12 years in jail after being detained following Iran’s disputed June election.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the United States was “deeply concerned” that Tajbakhsh was sentenced to a long jail term in Iran. Kelly said the term was 15 years, while the scholar’s lawyer, Houshang Azhari, told the official IRNA news agency in Tehran that the sentence was “more than 12 years”.

“Mr. Tajbakhsh poses no threat to the Iranian government or to national security. Given the groundless nature of charges against him, we call on Iran to grant his immediate release,” said Kelly.

Tajbakhsh was among more than 100 people detained after the presidential poll, which was followed by huge opposition protests. He was accused of espionage and acting against national security.

Reporting by Deborah Charles, Editing by Sandra Maler