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Afghan jailed for 16 years for spying for Iran

23 year old Mahmmood is found guilty of betrayal and treason to the people, national sovereignty, independence, internal security and covert activities against the government of Afghanistan

AFP , Wednesday 25 Jan 2012
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An Afghan man found in possession of photographs of NATO bases in Afghanistan has been jailed for 16 years for spying for neighbouring Iran, officials said Wednesday.

The 23-year-old man, named only as Mahmmood, had Iranian intelligence officials' phone numbers in his notebook and pictures of foreign and Afghan military installations in western Herat province, an official told AFP.

Afghan intelligence had been able to listen to conversations between him and Iranian intelligence over the border, the official said.

Mahmood was arrested while taking photographs of a government weapons depot, local media reported.

"We found you guilty of betrayal and treason to the people, national sovereignty, independence, internal security and covert activities against the government of Afghanistan," judge Serajuddin Naser told Mahmood in Herat city court Tuesday.

Mahmood, who is originally from Herat but has lived most of his life in Iran, had pleaded not guilty and continued to protest his innocence after being sentenced to 16 years in prison.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has accused Iran of providing equipment and support to Afghan militants waging an insurgency against the Afghan government and US-led international troops.

But Iran has rejected this, with a foreign ministry spokesman describing the allegations last year as "baseless and unacceptable."

Iran is sometimes seen as hostile to Taliban militants for religious reasons but analysts suggest it could support insurgents as a counterweight to arch-enemy the US, which has nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a 140,000-strong international force.

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