Eight Iranian environmentalists seized in January — Kavous Seyed-Emami (bottom right) was soon found dead in Evin Prison

Iran’s Attorney General has declared that seven environmentalists detained since January are Israeli and US “agents of influence”.

Mohammad Ja’afar Montazeri asserted that US and Israeli intelligence services sought ecologists who could go to “sensitive and vital locations” under the pretence of protecting animals.

“Agents of influence among ecologists were arrested and unfortunately some defended them but documents showing their infiltration is all available,” Montazeri said.

He did not produce those documents, nor have any been presented since the environmentalists were seized.

Eight experts in animal protection were detained. The Iranian-Canadian founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, died under mysterious circumstances in Tehran’s Evin Prison days later. Authorities say he committed suicide, but his family have an investigation into the possibility of murder.

The Intelligence Ministry has denied involvement in the arrests and said in May that its investigation found no proof of espionage. Journalists, activists, and a defense lawyer believe the Revolutionary Guards are responsible.

In October, Tehran’s Prosecutor General said that four of the environmentalists have been charged with “corruption on Earth”, which can carry the death penalty. On November 9, the head of the judiciary in Tehran Province said indictments had been delivered to the Revolutionary Court, but no trial date has been set.