TEHRAN: A former Iranian deputy prime minister who spent years in jail on charges of spying for the US died on Thursday at the age of 86, state media reported.
Abbas Amir-Entezam, regarded as a liberal, had spent decades in jail after being found guilty of espionage and treason shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Amir-Entezam, who was in poor health following his years in prison, died following a "cardiac arrest", according to state news agency IRNA.
The Fars news agency said he had been at home at the time and could not be resuscitated. It was not clear how long he had been out of prison and under what conditions he had been allowed to return home.
Amir-Entezam was widely considered by human rights groups to be Iran’s longest-serving political prisoner. He was a deputy prime minister and government spokesman in the provisional government headed by Mehdi Bazargan after the revolution that overthrew Iran’s Shah.
But he opposed moves to turn the state into an Islamic republic. The government sent him to Sweden as an ambassador, but he was later recalled, arrested and sentenced to life in prison in 1981 for spying for the United States -- a charge he always denied. After serving a 17-year sentence, he was arrested again in 1998 after making critical statements about the former head of the Evin prison near Tehran.