Iran’s foreign ministry on Saturday rejected a guilty plea by an Iranian-American man that he conspired with Iranian officials to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
Manssor Arbabsiar pleaded guilty on Wednesday at the New York federal court to attempting to hire a Mexican drug gang for $1.5 million to blow up the Saudi envoy in a restaurant he frequented in Washington.
But Iran’s foreign ministry questioned the plea and rejected the notion that “any Iranian organisation” had any role in the plot.
“Pleading guilty after initial denial and a year (in custody) is a sign of psychological pressure and the abnormal situation of US jails and solitary confinement there,” its spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement reported by the state broadcaster’s website.
“This ridiculous scenario was designed by American officials a year ago while the man arrested denied all charges. Some (non-American) officials and political pundits have said it is unreal and likened it to a Hollywood scenario,” he said.
Mehmanparast also condemned what he called “the misuse of the judicial system and designing absurd and baseless plots in the current political state in the US,” without elaborating.
The claim that Iranian officials were involved in the plot was made in October last year, and the United States said it traced the supposed plan to the Quds Force, a special operations unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Arbabsiar, a former car salesman, was arrested in September last year at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and was charged along with co-defendant Gholam Shakuri, a senior Quds Force member who remains at large.
Iran repeatedly denied any involvement in the plot, which strained already frayed relations with regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.
In a largely symbolic vote last November, the UN General Assembly demanded that Iran cooperate with the US investigation into the plot.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
WATCH: White House protesters chant ‘impeach Trump’ loud enough for aides to hear
Protesters gathered in front of the White House on Sunday to call on President Donald Trump to be removed from office.
Videos circulated online showed protesters chanting "impeach Trump" close enough to the White House for staff to hear the demonstration.
In other videos, protesters were blowing loud whistles.
Meanwhile, demonstrators also greeted Trump as he visited his New Jersey golf course. Pro-impeachment protesters were also reportedly out on the streets in Boston and New York City.
Watch some of the video clips below.
Outside the White House right now:
Here are 3 moves a desperate Trump will likely attempt in order to cling to power
In a column for the Daily Beast, political observer Micheal Tomasky speculated -- and not without good reason -- that a frantic Donald Trump will do anything to remain in office and thereby avoid being slammed with criminal indictments once he departs the Oval Office for good..
As the columnist explained, impeachment seems inevitable and the president will likely take desperate measures and that he has already given hints about three paths he may take -- if not all of them.
Tomasky wrote, "It’s foolish to say that Trump thinks ahead about anything. The late journalist Wayne Barrett said many true things about Trump, but the truest ever was when he observed that Trump says whatever will get him through the next 10 minutes," before adding, "People around him of course are more strategic and are thinking ahead. And they’re all saying and doing and writing things right now that will, if the opportunity presents itself, pave the way for Trump to burn the Constitution."
Pentagon says up to 1,000 US troops to withdraw from northern Syria
The Pentagon said Sunday President Donald Trump had ordered the withdrawal of up to 1,000 troops from northern Syria -- almost the entire ground force in war-torn country -- amid an intensifying Turkish assault on Kurdish forces.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the move came after the US learned that Turkey was pressing further into Syria than had been expected.
And the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are seeking a deal with the Syrian regime and Russia to counter-attack against the Turks in the north, Esper added.
"We find ourselves as we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it's a very untenable situation," Esper told CBS's Face the Nation.