Iranian state television broadcast video of two detained Iranian-Americans on its nationwide channel Wednesday night, purporting to show them making incriminating statements about plotting subversion in Iran.
The images included in a documentary followed Tehran's announcement this month that fresh evidence had pushed its judiciary to launch more investigations into the cases of Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, who have been accused of endangering Iran's national security.
Before the program, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack lashed out at Iran over the plans to broadcast the alleged confessions, which had been promoted on state TV since Monday.
Esfandiari appeared first in the documentary Wednesday night, describing what appeared to be her activities as director of the Middle East program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
"The aim of the Iran program was to plan sessions of lectures," she said. "When people came to the U.S. for lectures, policymakers listened to their lectures ... and a network was formed."
In what appeared to be a montage of disparate quotes stitched together to form an incriminating statement, Esfandiari said she had attended meetings at the University of California where possible U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials were present.
"I twice attended an annual UCLA conference on the Mideast ... in which people from the U.S. and Israel were present," she said. "Some of them were former intelligence officers."
In a separate section of the documentary, titled "Under the Name of Democracy," Tajbakhsh also explained his biography and his purpose for visiting Iran. He is an urban planning consultant with the New York-based Open Society Institute.
Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh appeared separately in the video clips, speaking in Farsi and seeming to be in homes or offices. Both have been held in Iran's notorious Evin prison since being arrested this year on charges of endangering Iran's national security.
Two other Iranian-Americans face similar charges.