thenational: Iran claimed to have captured 17 spies working for America’s Central Intelligence Agency and sentenced some of them to death.
State television quoted the Intelligence Ministry as saying it had broken up a CIA spying ring. The semi-official Fars news agency quoted ministry officials saying some of those arrested were sentenced to death.
There were no concrete details on the alleged spying ring but it comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Iran.
Last May, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2005 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran. In recent months, the US has blamed Iran for several attacks on oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and Revolutionary Guards also shot down an American drone.
Although there was no confirmation that it is the same group accused of being a CIA ring, last month, Iran said it had penetrated an American espionage operation in Iran and other “allied countries”.
The state-run IRNA news agency reported that the country’s intelligence agencies had “penetrated the US safe system in cyber-space” that was used “for maintaining communication with spies”.
State broadcaster IRIB quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying that the information was passed to allies.
“We provided the information on the exposed network to some other allied countries in which it had been operating, which resulted in the exposing and dismantling of the US intelligence officers network and arrest and conviction of some CIA agents in different countries,” Mr Shamkhani said.
IRNA quoted intelligence officials saying at a press conference on Monday that those arrested worked in were working as contractors and consultants in vital private sector companies.
The official said that these included nuclear, military and cybersecurity firms.
There was no indication of the nationalities of those arrested but the official quoted appeared to indicate Iranians were involved, saying that they had been recruited in exchange for a US visa and the promise of relocation in the West.
The official also appeared to suggest that some of those arrested had been attempting to flee the country and went to meet CIA handlers in border areas when they were apprehended by Iranian intelligence waiting for them.
IRNA quoted the official claiming that as some of those recruited had been approached at international conferences in Europe and Africa and, as such, Iranian intelligence would hold those countries responsible for any CIA recruitment that took place in their country.
Source: Published by thenational