US ‘trou­bled’ by spy­ing sen­tence

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE United States said it was “trou­bled” by Iran’s re­ported 18-year sen­tence of an Ira­nian Amer­i­can ac­cused of spy­ing, a week after two other dual cit­i­zens were sen­tenced amid tense bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

In an interview from a prison in north­east Iran with the Los An­ge­les Times, Gho­lam­rez Reza Shahini, 46, said he was being sent to prison for “col­lab­o­rat­ing with a hos­tile gov­ern­ment”, an ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence to the United States.

The San Diego res­i­dent, who goes by the nick­name Robin, was ar­rested on July 11 this year when he was vis­it­ing his mother and other fam­ily mem­bers in Iran.

“We are trou­bled by re­ports that Robin or Raisa Shahini, a per­son re­ported to be a US cit­i­zen, may have been con­victed and sen­tenced to 18 years in prison,” said State Depart­ment spokesper­son John Kirby.

Last week, an Ira­nian Amer­i­can busi­ness­man and his 80-year-old fa­ther were sen­tenced to 10 years in an Ira­nian prison for es­pi­onage, prompt­ing the US State Depart­ment to de­mand their re­lease.

Sia­mak Na­mazi and his fa­ther Ba­quer Na­mazi were sen­tenced “for es­pi­onage and col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment”, said Ira­nian pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral Ab­bas Ja­fari Do­lat-Abadi, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal Fars news agency.

In re­sponse to the US de­mand for their re­lease, Iran said it would not ac­cept US “in­ter­fer­ence” in its in­ter­nal af­fairs.

The sen­tenc­ing of Ira­nian Amer­i­cans comes in the con­text of ten­sions be­tween the US and Iran over the nor­mal­i­sa­tion of fi­nan­cial re­la­tions be­tween the Is­lamic repub­lic and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity fol­low­ing a nu­clear agree­ment.

The his­toric deal be­tween world pow­ers and Iran, which came into force in Jan­uary this year, saw a par­tial lift­ing of sanc­tions in ex­change for curbs on Tehran’s con­tro­ver­sial nu­clear pro­gram. – THE Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has ap­proved a new third run­way at Lon­don’s Heathrow air­port, a de­ci­sion that has stoked di­vi­sions and fol­lows decades of de­bate.

The move was hailed by Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling as a “mo­men­tous step” but sparked protests and threats of le­gal ac­tion from op­po­nents.

Fol­low­ing Bri­tain’s vote in June to leave the Euro­pean Union, the “long over­due” de­ci­sion would “send a clear mes­sage to­day that Bri­tain is open for busi­ness”, Mr Grayling told par­lia­ment.

The gov­ern­ment said the new run­way would “bring eco­nomic ben­e­fits to pas­sen­gers and the wider econ­omy worth up to £61 bil­lion [US$75 bil­lion]” thanks to the in­crease in the amount of air traf­fic the cap­i­tal is able to han­dle.

It said up to 77,000 lo­cal jobs are ex­pected to be cre­ated over the next 14 years, while the air­port has com­mit­ted to cre­ate 5000 ap­pren­tice­ships over the same pe­riod.

But there is strong en­vi­ron­men­tal op­po­si­tion to the ex­pan­sion – the cap­i­tal’s first new full-length run­way since World War II – and the ap­proval process could still de­lay or even block its ex­e­cu­tion over the com­ing years.

Min­is­ters op­posed to the plans have been granted the rare op­por­tu­nity to voice their dis­sent­ing views, in­clud­ing For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son, an out­spo­ken critic of Heathrow ex­pan­sion. –

Photo: AFP

Chris Grayling sees the third run­way as a mo­men­tous step.

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