Members of Iran 13 withdraw confessions

Also on Tuesday, a Muslim individual accused of collaborating with the Jews denied the charge.

According to Reuters, the lead attorney for the "Iran 13," Esmail Nasseri, said the court proceedings "were of benefit to our clients and strengthen the defense team's assertions that our clients are not guilty."

Pooya Dayanim, a spokesman for the Los Angeles-based Council of Iranian American Jewish Organizations, said the Jewish community in Shiraz, the southern Iranian city that is home to most of the accused spies, is "becoming more confident every day.

"Our hope is that the other people who allegedly confessed can be brought to court so they can recant their confessions as well," he said.

Advocates for the Jews maintain that the 13 have been falsely charged. When nine of them "confessed" last month, observers insisted that the Jews were coerced after having spent 15 months in solitary confinement, with human contact limited mostly to interrogators.

The Iran 13 were arrested more than a year ago; three were released on bail in February.

The trial was closed to the public and the judge also assumed the role of investigator, prosecutor and jury — a clear conflict of interest under Western law.

A verdict is expected at the end of next week. It was originally scheduled for this week, but was delayed because of Tuesday's hearing. Another hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

Tuesday's development came as Jews around the United States were holding prayer vigils on behalf of the Iranian Jews.

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