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Iran jails U.S. Businessman, Possibly Jeopardizing Biden's Plans for Diplomacy with Tehran

Only weeks after the U.S. election and three days after an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated, Iranian authorities convicted a U.S. businessman on spying charges, a family friend said, NBC reports.

The case threatens to complicate plans by the next administration to pursue diplomacy with Iran, as President-elect Joe Biden has said he would be open to easing sanctions on Tehran if the regime returned to compliance with a 2015 nuclear agreement.

The man, Emad Shargi, 56, who is Iranian American, was summoned to a Tehran court Nov. 30 and told that he had been convicted of espionage without a trial and sentenced to 10 years, a family friend said.

Shargi's family has not heard from him for more than six weeks, the family said in a statement.

Only a year earlier, in December 2019, an Iranian court had cleared Shargi, but the regime withheld his Iranian and U.S. passports.

The about-face by the Iranian authorities took place only weeks after Biden won the U.S. presidential election and three days after the killing of a leading nuclear scientist and senior defense official, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, east of Tehran. Iran blamed Israel for the assassination; Israel has declined to comment.

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