Iran jails nuclear deal negotiator for 'espionage'

Iran jails nuclear deal negotiator for 'espionage'
Iran reportedly jails an unnamed nuclear negotiator who is thought to be Iranian-Canadian dual national Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani.
2 min read
05 October, 2017
The jailed man is thought to be Canadian-Iranian dual national Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani [AFP]

A member of the Iranian negotiating team that struck the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers has been convicted of espionage and sentenced by an Iranian court to five years in prison, Iran's semi-official news agency reported on Wednesday.

Despite not being named in the report, it is suspected that the negotiator in question is dual Iranian-Canadian national Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani.

Esfahani is the only negotiator known to be facing charges in Iran.

"The conviction of a member of the nuclear negotiation team who has been arrested before and released on bail has been confirmed in the Tehran provincial appeals court," the report  by the Tasnim news agency read. "This person has been sentenced to five years in prison."

If the convicted individual is Esfahani, that would make him the latest dual national to be arrested in Iran as part of what a United Nations panel has described as an "emerging pattern" that has formed since the accord was struck two years ago.

According to Philip Hannan, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, Canadian officials were "aware of media reports that a dual national has been sentenced in Iran." 

In August 2016, Iranian news outlets reported that Esfahani, who reportedly worked as part of a team working to have sanctions on Iran lifted, had been detained by authorities.

He was later granted bail, which is rare for suspects accused of serious crimes in Iran.

Esfahani is known to have served as a member of the Iranian team working at The Hague on disputes between Iran and the United States over pre-revolution purchases of military equipment from the US by Iran. He is a member of the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants in Canada and  has served as an adviser to the head of Iran's Central Bank.

Iran does not recognise dual nationalities, meaning that such detainees are not given consular assistance.

In most cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings before Iran's Revolutionary Court. The court is charged with handling cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.