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Iran jails German, French tourists

Patroling boat
Agence France Presse – An Iranian court has sentenced a French skipper and his German client who were arrested after straying into Iran’s Gulf waters to 18 months behind bars, a lawyer for one of the accused told AFP Tuesday.

"They haven’t officially sent me the verdict yet, but I have been told that both of them have been given an 18-month jail term for illegally entering Iranian territorial waters," said Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, who is representing German national Donald Klein.

"From the day when I officially receieve the verdict, I have 20 days to appeal and I definitely intend to do so," he added.

He denied the case was tied to mounting tensions between Iran and the European Union.

France and Germany, along with Britain and backed by the United States, are pushing for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council over its disputed nuclear programme.

"It is a judicial matter. It has nothing to do with such issues," Karimi-Rad said. "Our citizens have also been convicted in some of these countries and we have not protested."

Neither the Iranian authorities nor the two men’s governments have released their names, although the German has been identified in media reports as Donald Klein.

Klein’s wife told German public radio last week that he had been sentenced to an 18-month jail term and said she would attempt to appeal the ruling because her husband was innocent.

A court in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas held a preliminary hearing into the case on January 5, and the pair reportedly argued that they entered Iranian waters by accident.

Their disappearance was first reported on November 29 by Klein’s wife when he failed to return from a fishing trip. The German man had been on holiday in the United Arab Emirates, which lies across the Gulf from Iran.