TEHRAN – Iran accused the West on Monday of meddling in its state affairs for criticizing its mass trial of moderates charged with spying and trying to topple the clerical establishment after the disputed president vote.
Do we interfere in other countries' state matters? Why should they interfere in ours? Iran will strongly resist such meddling, senior official Hassan Qashqavi told a weekly news conference.
Why don't they (the West) leave us and our people alone?
The June 12 election, which secured hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite and set off a wave of protests that left 26 people dead.
In an attempt to uproot the opposition, Iran began two mass trials of over 100 people, including prominent figures, a French woman and two Iranians working for the British and French embassies in Tehran. It charged them with spying and assisting a Western plot to overthrow the clerical rule.
The United States and its European allies have rejected the trials as a show. Britain and France have denied that those detained were spies. The Swedish EU presidency said actions against one EU country or citizen were considered an act against the entire 27-nation bloc.
Espionage and acting against national security are punishable by death under Iran's Islamic law.
Moderates say the vote was rigged in favor of Ahmadinejad, backed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Officials say it was the healthiest vote in the past 30 years.
Leading moderates, including defeated candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, have denounced the mass trials as an invaluable show, saying confessions were made under duress.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qashqavi said comments made by Frenchwoman Clotilde Reiss and two Iranians working for French and British embassies in Tehran proved foreign intervention in Iran's internal affairs.
Their comments in the court were unlawful, illogical and surprising, Qashqavi said.
This French lady says she was a French language teacher in Isfahan ... then she takes part in protests, takes photographs and film. This has nothing to do with her French teaching.
Qashqavi said the British employee Hossein Rassam's confessions were not made under pressure. Rassam is charged with espionage and was freed on $100,000 bail on July 19.
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Sunday urged judiciary to put on trial Mousavi, Karoubi and former president Mohammad Khatami for orchestrating protests after the June poll.
Khamenei ordered a prison's closure in July for lack of necessary standards to preserve prisoners' rights, and the police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam said some of those protesters held at Kahrizak detention center had been tortured.
Many of the post-election detainees were held in the southern Tehran Kahrizak prison, built to house people breaching the vice laws. At least three people died in custody there and widespread anger erupted as news spread of abuse in the jail.
On Sunday Karoubi said on his website that some protesters, both male and female, had been raped while in detention, and that he had written to the head of a powerful arbitration body calling for an investigation.
Some 200 protesters remain in prison, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists, activists and lawyers.
Ahmadinejad was sworn into office on Wednesday. He has until August 19 name his new cabinet, which the opposition says will be illegitimate.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Samia Nakhoul)