British employee tells Iran spy trial he was told to watch riots

TEHRAN, Aug 8, 2009 (AFP) - British embassy Iranian employee Hossein Rassam told a Tehran court on Saturday that he had been told by his superiors to monitor post-election protests as he went on trial on spy charges, official media said.

"Based on the order of British embassy, the local staff were asked to be present in the riots along with Tom Burn and Paul Blemey (eds: spellings as transliterated from Persian)," Rassam said referring to two British diplomats expelled by Iran in June.

Prosecutors charged that Rassam and another Iranian employee of the embassy who was also briefly detained had reported to the British government on the wave of protests that followed President mahmoud Ahmadinjad's disputed June 12 re-election, the state IRNA news agency said.

"You along with Arash Momenian were given the duty of meeting representatives of political groups, ethnic and religious minorities, and student groups and to relay the news of Iran's riots to London," it quoted the prosecutor as telling the court.

The judge said the allegation merited a charge of espionage.

"Based on the charges read out by the Tehran prosecution, you are accused of spying for foreigners," the judge was quoted as saying by IRNA, which identified him only by the single name Salavati.

Source: AFP

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