US ‘troubled’ by spying sentence
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. –
Chris Grayling sees the third runway as a momentous step.