World Report

TEHRAN (JTA) — Iran is denying that 10 Jews imprisoned on charges of espionage have formally requested clemency from the country's highest leader.

News reports earlier this week said the 10 had sent a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which they asked to be pardoned from sentences ranging from two to nine years.

But a judiciary spokesman said a pardon request must first be channeled through the courts, which critics say are controlled by Islamic hard-liners.

"There is a certain procedure requiring the request for pardon, and it should be initially referred to the concerned judge," Hossein Mir Mohammad Sadeqi said in an interview with the English-language daily Tehran Times on Wednesday.

Suriname shul now site of a cyber cafe

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Jewish community in the South American nation of Suriname is allowing one of the oldest synagogues in the Western hemisphere to be used as an Internet cafe.

"We had to do this to save the synagogue," which is plagued by high maintenance costs and low attendance, Jewish community leader Dennis Kopinsky told the Associated Press.

Kopinsky said the Sedekwe Shalom congregation has only about 60 members, and they now worship at the other synagogue in Paramaribo, Suriname's capital.

Schindler's wife touted as a hero in biography

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Oskar Schindler's widow, who was left on the sidelines in the Steven Spielberg movie about her husband, is being remembered in a new book that shows her role in rescuing thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.

"She was not in Oskar's shadows. She worked right beside Schindler, and that is the truth," Argentine journalist Erika Rosenberg told Reuters. Rosenberg is author of "Ich, Emilie Schindler" — German for "I, Emilie Schindler."

In related news, a U.S. academic defended the publication in German of his controversial book "The Holocaust Industry," and urged Germany not to submit to blackmail over its past.

"It is Germany's right to reject the use of the Nazi Holocaust as a weapon for political and economic gain," Norman Finkelstein, the son of concentration camp survivors, said Wednesday in Berlin. "The Nazi Holocaust has long ceased to be a source of moral and historical enlightenment. It has become a straight-out extortion racket."