Iran intelligence minister defends nuclear negotiator 'spy'

Iran intelligence minister defends nuclear negotiator 'spy'
Iran's intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi defended a nuclear negotiator imprisoned on spying charges, in a rare implied criticism of the judiciary on Wednesday.

2 min read
11 October, 2017
The judiciary accused Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani of spying [AFP]

Iran's intelligence minister defended a nuclear negotiator imprisoned on spying charges on Wednesday, in a rare implied criticism of the judiciary. 

Mahmoud Alavi dismissed charges against Canadian-Iranian, Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, who was given a five-year prison sentence this month after the the judiciary said he had provided "information for foreigners and had links with two espionage services".

"The counter-espionage section of the Intelligence Ministry is the authority detecting issues related to espionage," said Alavi, in comments carried by multiple Iranian news agencies, including the semi-official ISNA.

"As far as this section is concerned, not only has Dorri Esfahani not committed any espionage, but he has intelligently resisted attacks on him by foreign services."

The intelligence ministry comes under the office of President Hassan Rouhani, which led the negotiations with world powers that resulted in the 2015 agreement, while the judiciary is independent and dominated by conservatives.

It has been regularly criticised abroad for its actions, particularly over the imprisonment of dual nationals and foreigners, but rarely by other branches of the Iranian government.

"The ministry of intelligence was responsible for protecting and safeguarding the nuclear negotiations, and has carried out one of its most outstanding activities in this field," said Alavi.

Dorri Esfahani has a background in the banking sector and was a member of the supervisory board overseeing implementation of the nuclear deal.

From mid-2016, conservative websites and members of parliament repeatedly accused Dorri Esfahani of spying for Britain. 

Alavi flatly denied the accusations in October 2016, but the judiciary went ahead with the case.