IRAN claims it has captured 17 CIA agents after smashing an American spy ring and given some of them death sentences.
An Iranian intelligence ministry official claims US spooks infiltrated critical areas, including economic, nuclear, military and cyber sectors.
The claims were made in a documentary on state television which said it had rumbled a CIA spying ring which involved recruiting Iranian civilians.
An official, who did not give his name but was identified as the “director of the counterespionage department of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry” claimed that none of the 17, who allegedly had “sophisticated training,” had succeeded in their sabotage missions.
Western looking people are featured in the programme and are alleged to be the spies’ handlers.
The spying missions were said to have included collecting information at the facilities they worked at and installing monitoring devices.
Stone like containers were allegedly used to exchange intelligence material.
The official also claimed the CIA had promised those arrested US visas or jobs in America.
And he said some of the agents had turned and were now working with his department “against the US”.
He also handed out a CD with a video recording of an alleged foreign female spy working for the CIA in Dubai where it’s alleged many American spy recruiters are based.
The disc also included names of several US Embassy staff in Turkey, India, Zimbabwe and Austria who Iran claims were in touch with the recruited Iranian spies.
A ministry official said some of those arrested had been sentenced to death, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Iran is second only to China in the number of people it executes every year — officially about 500 people are put to death annually on charges ranging from murder, drug dealing to opposing the regime or being gay.
Firing squads or hanging is the preferred method.
According to Amnesty International confessions are extracted under torture and some trials are held in secret.
Donald Trump tweeted that the report was “totally false”.
He said: “The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth.
“Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do.
“Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”
Today’s announcement comes after three months of spiralling confrontation with the West that began when new tighter US sanctions took effect at the start of May.
Last week Iran captured a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz after Britain’s Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar in July 4.
A ministry statement said: “The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information.”
It was not immediately clear if the arrests were linked to the case in which Iran said in June it had exposed a large cyber espionage network it alleged was run by the CIA, and that several US spies had been arrested in different countries as a result of this action.
More to follow…
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