Does Iranian law consider US a hostile state?

By Ali Omidi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

On Oct. 18, Mizan, the Iranian judiciary’s news agency, reported that Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, who has been held for more than a year, and his father Baquer, who was detained in February, had both been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Their offense, as announced by Tehran’s Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, was “collaboration with the hostile US government.” According to the same report, Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national and permanent US resident, who was detained after traveling to Tehran for a conference in September 2015, also received a 10-year prison sentence over similar charges.

In August, nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who disappeared in Saudi Arabia in 2009 only to reappear in the United States in 2010 and then returned to Iran, was executed on the charge of treason. Judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei told reporters at the time, “Amiri had access to top secret information about the Islamic Republic of Iran and was linked to Iran’s No. 1 enemy, the United States. … Amiri had provided the enemy with vital information about Iran.” Separately, in May 2012, physicist Omid Kokabee was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the charge of having “contact with enemy states.”

Article 508 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code states, “Anyone who cooperates by any means with foreign states against the Islamic Republic of Iran, if not considered a mohareb [enemy of God], shall be sentenced to 1-10 years’ imprisonment” (moharebs are subject to the death penalty). This article formed the basis of the sentences given to Amiri, Kokabee and the Namazis. Whether they are truly guilty is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the relevant courts. The key question is whether it is possible to use legal terminology in a nonspecific manner. The majority of legal experts say it is not possible.

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