Kuwait has condemned Iran's rejection of an appeal court ruling against four Iranians charged with espionage for Tehran.
"The statement issued by Iran's foreign ministry is highly deplorable," Khalid Al Jarallah, the Kuwaiti foreign ministry undersecretary, said. "It is a disdain for our justice system that we hold in high esteem. The verdicts were issued following lengthy and deep investigations and an examination of all facts," he said.
Al Jarallah said the ministry would study the ruling after it was received from the court and would act accordingly.
On Monday, Kuwait's Court of Appeals, looking into the trial of the seven defendants charged in the pro-Iran espionage ring, commuted the death sentence of two Iranians and a Kuwaiti national who worked for the Kuwaiti army at the time of their arrest to life. It also upheld a life sentence against a stateless man, confirmed the acquittal of two other Iranians, a man and a woman, and acquitted a Syrian who had been sentenced by a lower court to life in prison.
The alleged seven-member cell was busted in May 2010, but Iran has vehemently denied any role and insisted that its nationals were innocent and should be released.
However, Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, on Tuesday said that the court sentences against Iranian nationals were "surprising" and "totally unacceptable."
"Recently some baseless claims have been made which are surprising and we consider them as unacceptable," he said.
"Such verdicts are not acceptable by any means and the fact that this issue had already been dismissed by Kuwaiti officials, but is being raised again surprises us," he said at a ministry's briefing.
Mehmanparast said Kuwait did not give Iran consular access to the Iranians.
"We hope that Kuwait will review its approach and we witness the release of our country's nationals," he said, quoted by the Mehr news agency.
However, in Kuwait City, several lawmakers added their voices to Kuwaiti officials' condemnation for the perceived harmful intentions from Tehran towards Kuwait.
"The statement by the Iranian foreign ministry is outrageous," MP Osama Al Munawar said. "They send their spies and networks or cause disruptions whenever they wanted, but when they are caught or busted, they get excited," he said, quoted by local Arabic daily Alam Alyawm on Thursday.
MP Faisal Al Musallam said the tone used by the ministry reflected the negative intentions Tehran had for Kuwait while MP Falah Al Sawwagh said that Kuwait's national security was a red line and that the country rejected any form of interference in its domestic issues.
For lawmaker Faisal Al Yahya, Kuwait's government needed to confront the Iranian statement and to ensure there was no interference in the country's internal affairs.
The espionage case strained relations between Kuwait and Iran, prompting both capitals to expel diplomats. However, the ambassadors returned to their posts shortly after a visit by Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's foreign minister, to Kuwait City.