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Austrian jailed in UK over Iran TV 'terror plot'

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Austrian jailed in UK over Iran TV 'terror plot'
Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP.

A Chechnya-born Austrian national convicted in Britain of spying for a group suspected of planning an attack on an independent Iranian TV station in London was jailed Friday for three-and-a-half years.

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Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev was convicted by a jury in London on Wednesday after a brief trial. The 31-year-old had pleaded not guilty to possessing records with information likely to be useful for an act of terrorism.

He was detained by counter-terrorism officers in west London in February.

Prosecutors said Dovtaev came to London to gather "hostile reconnaissance" on a building housing the Persian-language channel Iran International, whose journalists have reported on alleged human rights violations in the Islamic republic.

Dovtaev's lawyer Paul Keleher said there was every possibility his client was a "useful idiot" and that claims Iran would contemplate a terrorist attack on a news organisation in England were "far-fetched".

But judge Richard Marks said he was "satisfied to the criminal standard of proof that an attack of some sort on Iran International was the plan of those who were behind this".

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The Iranian government declared Iran International a terrorist organisation after it reported on protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

She died in September last year after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic's strict dress code for women.

Amini's death triggered months of nationwide demonstrations under the slogan "Woman, Life, Freedom".

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