Iran Claims US Backed A Coup Plot, Tries 4 Suspects

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TEHRAN, Iran — Four Iranians have been tried on charges of seeking to topple Iran's Islamic government with the alleged support of the U.S. State Department and the CIA, a judicial official said Tuesday.

Ali Reza Jamshidi, a judiciary spokesman, said the four were detained and tried in Tehran. Jamshidi claimed they planned to recruit others to be trained in anti-Iranian activities abroad.

"They were directed by the U.S. State Department and the CIA," he told reporters, without elaborating or identifying the four.

It was unclear when the trial started or how long it lasted, but Jamshidi said a verdict and sentencing was expected within days.

The comment comes a day after Iran's Foreign Ministry said the country is watching to see if remarks about engagement by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama will lead to a change in U.S. policy toward Tehran.

Earlier this week, Obama told ABC News that he wanted to improve relations with Iran, describing a "new approach" involving engagement.

In 2007, Iran released four Iranian-Americans detained on similar charges during their separate visits to Iran. The four _ including academic Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars _ were never tried.

The Iranian-Americans were charged with endangering national security _ an accusation they, their families and their employers denied.

The detentions increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran over U.S. accusations that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its atomic program is solely for power generation.

Iran and the U.S. have not had diplomatic ties since Iranian students took American diplomats hostage in Tehran following the 1979 overthrow of U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Iranians have a long list of grievances against the United States, including a CIA-backed coup in 1953 that overthrew democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and put Pahlavi back on the throne.