0511 GMT January 28, 2020
The head of Iran’s Department of Environment (DoE) called for determining sooner the fate of the seven environmentalists detained in the country on espionage charges since January.
Isa Kalantari said on Sunday, “We do not say release them or execute them. However, we want their fate to be determined [sooner]. This is a part of our citizenship rights,” IRNA reported.
The cases of these detainees were supposed to be settled by September 22, he noted, adding this comes as their cases have not gone to court yet.
He said, “Quoting the Iranian intelligence minister [Mahmoud Alavi] we said [earlier] these individuals are not spies. The minister of intelligence is the only official authority [in Iran] authorized to convict individuals of espionage. He has, in this case, announced that these persons are not secret agents.”
On January 24, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) intelligence agents arrested the environmentalists.
Iran’s judiciary officials said the environmental activists were gathering sensitive information for foreign governments under the guise of scientific and environmental activities.
Earlier, Kalantari had said an Iranian government panel had concluded there was no evidence against environmental activists rounded up on spying charges in recent months.
He added the panel included the Iranian ministers of justice, interior and intelligence, as well as the president’s legal deputy.
“This four-member group has come to the conclusion that these detained individuals are in custody without having done anything and naturally they must be freed soon.”