TEHRAN, Iran – A special court formed after Iran's post-election unrest has convicted an Iranian-American academic and sentenced him to more than 12 years in prison, state media said Tuesday.
Kian Tajbakhsh was the only American in an ongoing mass trial of alleged Iranian opposition members and reportedly faced charges including espionage, contacting foreign agents and acting against Iran's national security.
Tajbakhsh was arrested July 9 during a crackdown on protesters and Iranian political figures rallying against the disputed presidential elections, which critics claimed were rigged in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Washington has repeatedly denounced Tajbaksh's arrest. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed in August for Tajbakhsh's release, and he was specially named in a call by the British rock star Sting to free all political prisoners in Iran.
In 2007, Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, spent four months in prison on charges of endangering national security. He denied the charges at the time, and has also denied the post-election allegations against him.
His lawyer, Houshang Azhari, was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as confirming Tuesday he received the verdict. The attorney said Tajbakhsh's sentence was "more than 12 years," but that the law prohibits him from divulging further details.
The report came as more than a third of Iran's parliament asked judicial authorities to prosecute opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. According to IRNA, 100 deputies in the 290-member parliament supported the demand in a letter to State Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi.
The letter, delivered by lawmaker Hamid Rasai, a staunch Ahmadinejad supporter, said Mousavi should be put on trial because his statements and actions had damaged "reputation of the Islamic system."
It's unclear whether authorities would bring charges against Mousavi, who declared himself the rightful winner in June's election. But he has vowed to press ahead with opposition to the government.
Last week, Iranian authorities opened an investigation into another former presidential candidate, Mahdi Karroubi, in a possible first step toward bringing charges.
Besides Tajbakhsh, Iranian authorities hold retired Iranian-American businessman Reza Taghavi and three American hikers: Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd. Another American, former FBI agent Robert Levinson, is also believed missing in Iran since March 2007.
An Iranian-Canadian journalist for Newsweek Maziar Bahari, who was detained after the election, was released based on a bail last week. Of those held, only the cases of Tajbakhsh and Bahari were linked to the post-election turmoil.
Iranian investigators are still questioning the three American hikers, detained in late July after straying across the border and their fate rests with judicial authorities, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Tuesday in a wide-ranging news conference.
Mottaki gave no other details of the probe or a possible timeframe on the case. But his comments suggested that formal charges could still be possible against the Americans, although Ahmadinejad had recently pledged he would request "maximum leniency" for them.
They three have been visited by Swiss diplomats, who oversee U.S. interests in Iran, and earlier this month, their relatives presented a petition to Iran's mission at the United Nations in New York asking for their release.
In an interview with The Associated Press last month, Ahmadinejad said he would ask the country's judiciary to expedite the process and "look at the case with maximum leniency."
The case of the hikers could be complicated by suspicions over the disappearance of an Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri in June while on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Mottaki repeated accusations of a U.S. role in Amiri's disappearance and said the United States "must be held accountable" for information on him, but made no direct connection with the hikers' case.
Amiri reportedly worked at a university linked to the Revolutionary Guard and his wife has said he was researching medical uses of nuclear technology, but was not involved in the country's broader nuclear program.
Mottaki claimed Amiri was "kidnapped" in a plot masterminded by Washington and assisted by Saudi officials.
Saudi officials have made no public comments on the accusations. Earlier this month, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said he had no information about the reported disappearance, adding that "the case is not familiar to us."
Amiri traveled to Saudi Arabia on May 31 for omra, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, his wife told the semi-official news agency ISNA. The last she heard from him was on June 3, when he called her from the holy city of Medina.
Mottaki also increased pressure on Pakistan to crackdown on Sunni militants after Sunday's suicide attack in the border region that killed 42 people, including top commanders of the powerful Revolutionary Guard. Iran's state television on Tuesday raised the number of Guard members killed in the blast to 15.
Mottaki demanded Pakistan arrest and extradite suspected members of the Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, which claimed responsibility for Sunday's suicide attack. He said the bombing had foreign roots and said the group is based in Pakistan and has "links with intelligence services and foreign forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
The Fars news agency reported three arrests linked to the bombing, but gave no other details.
An Iranian delegation was scheduled to go to Pakistan to discuss the case with officials.
Iran claims Pakistan aids and shelters the group, which purports to be fighting for the rights of minority Sunni tribes in southeastern Iran. On Monday, Iranian officials said the United States and Britain also have links to Jundallah -- charges denied by both nations.
On Tuesday, IRNA also quoted intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi as saying Tehran has "good evidences in the hand which show Pakistan's intelligence apparatus has a link with the group."
The Guard's acting commandeer, Gen. Hossein Slamai, said the Guards would hunt down the attackers "in any place of the world," signaling possible Iranian plans to raid bases of the group abroad, including in Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities have promised to help Iran fight the militants, but insist there is no high-level backing for the group.
Police say more than 600 foreigners have been detained over the past two days for illegal entrance into Sistan-Baluchistan province, where Sunday's suicide bombing took place. It's unclear if the detentions are related to extra security after the bombing or part of frequent Iranian sweeps against human trafficking and drug smuggling.