November 28, 2007 / 11:46 AM / 12 years ago

Iran minister to release details in espionage case

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s intelligence minister said on Wednesday he was ready to publish details about the case of a former nuclear negotiator whose espionage charges were dropped but who the ministry has said is guilty, a news agency reported.

Former negotiator Hossein Mousavian’s case has taken on a political dimension in a dispute between those backing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tough line in Iran’s atomic row with the West and those who want a more moderate approach.

Clearing Mousavian of an espionage charge — although the judiciary said on Tuesday he was guilty of a lesser charge — was seen as a setback for Ahmadinejad who has vowed to root out corruption and wants to discredit those who back policies he sees as accommodating the West, analysts said.

By seeking to keep the case in the public eye, one analyst said Ahmadinejad and his camp wanted to show the public they would not be outmaneuvered by opponents, particularly before the March parliamentary election.

Mousavian was a member of the negotiating team when Tehran temporarily agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, a process the West wants halted again because it believes Iran is using the technology to make atomic bombs. Iran denies any such aim.

Ahmadinejad has branded those seeking a return to suspension as “traitors” and says Iran will not give up its peaceful atomic work.

Nuclear policy is ultimately decided in Iran by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei but he has also vowed no retreat.

“We will publish documents of (Mousavian’s) dossier if the judiciary permits,” Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei said, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Mohseni-Ejei this month said Mousavian had given information to foreigners, including the British embassy, and said “from the viewpoint of the Intelligence Ministry he is guilty”.

He did not repeat that comment but said: “The Intelligence Ministry will submit its viewpoint regarding this (case) to the judiciary and it is up to the judiciary to accept or not.”

Ahmadinejad backed the minister’s call, IRNA reported.

“Mr Mousavian had several meetings with strangers, said some things and, if the content of the talks and the exchange of information is published, the issue will be clear,” he said.

“Sometimes conditions are hard and complicated and some people want to use their influence against implementing justice, like in the case of Mousavian,” Ahmadinejad said, adding that “the case is not technical, it is political”.

The judiciary, which says it is independent, urged opposing camps not to intervene, saying it could harm legal procedures.

Mousavian is a moderate conservative with ties to the political camp of influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a political rival of Ahmadinejad.

Writing by Reza Derakhshi; Editing by Edmund Blair

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