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22 Azerbaijanis on trial for spying for Iran

(Xinhua)

12:30, August 29, 2012

BAKU, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-two Azerbaijani citizens went on trial Tuesday on accusations of secret collaboration with Iran's Revolutionary Guard, local media reported.

The trial started behind closed doors at the Court of Grave Crimes in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, where the suspects were accused of "severe treason" and "illegal acquisition, transfer and possession of firearms and ammunition" under the country's criminal code.

All of them were arrested earlier this year as a result of operations carried out by the Ministry of National Security, the reports said.

According to local media, the defense side gave several petitions in the process. A preparatory meeting of the process will continue Wednesday due to the discussion of the petitions.

On March 14, 2012, the Ministry of National Security said in a statement that authorities detained 22 people who were recruited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and "engaged in espionage against Azerbaijan."

The group started operating in the country in 1999 and all members acquired weapons to carry out terrorist attacks against foreign diplomats and businessmen, the statement said.

Security officers seized drugs, various kinds of weapons and explosives when the suspects were arrested.

Under Azerbaijan's criminal law, penalty for "severe treason" can be imprisonment from 10 years to a maximum of life time.

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