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Iranian Cleric: Interviews by Iranian-Americans Prove US 'Plot'


A top Iranian cleric says televised interviews with two Iranian-Americans detained in Iran prove what he calls a U.S. plot to destabilize the Islamic republic.

Ahmad Khatami says the interviews amount to confessions by what he calls two U.S. agents. Iran aired the edited interviews Thursday as part of a program that accuses the two detained academics of trying to bring about a non-violent revolution in Iran.

The U.S. State Department says Iran should be embarrassed by its behavior and by feeling threatened by the two. A spokesman Friday again urged Iran to release the detainees.

In the video broadcast Thursday, Haleh Esfandiari, a Washington-based researcher, said she was trying to create a network to improve democracy and women's rights in Iran.

The second detainee, Kian Tajbakhsh, a U.S.-based urban planner, said his organization was trying to turn Iran into a Western-style democracy.

The two Iranian-Americans have been detained separately in Iran since May on charges of harming national security. The U.S. says the charges are baseless, and has expressed outrage at the treatment of the two.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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