With escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, Iran has arrested 17 spies for working for US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and some have been sentenced to death. The 17, who are Iranian nationals, have been alleged to have been recruited by the CIA to spy on Iran’s nuclear and military sites.
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An Iranian intelligence official told a news conference in Tehran that the arrests spanned over several months. He said that those who have been arrested worked on ‘sensitive sites’ in Iran’s military and nuclear facilities. Moreover, Iranian state television showed images of CIA officers being in contact with the alleged spies.
The official revealed that recruitment was conducted by CIA officers on the sidelines of scientific conferences in Europe, Africa and Asia. “The agency also began correspondence with some of the Iranian nationals through social networks and email,” he said and added that the CIA established fake companies as part of the espionage operation to communicate with the Iranian nationals on the pretext of hiring Iranian experts or supplying equipment aboard. The official told the conference that espionage equipment and money were transported into the country inside stones with spyware embedded in them. “Agents would then retrieve the stones from various areas in cities, parks and mountain areas and remove the equipment by breaking the stones,” he said.
Furthermore, an Iranian news agency said the CIA had developed an emergency escape plan for spies, in which the agents would meet CIA officers at a predetermined place in a border town and then exit the country with the agent. But this didn’t work out as Iranian officials captured the agents when they arrived at the predetermined escape point.
The Iranian Intelligence Ministry said the spies had undergone training to withstand interrogation but they ended up confessing to released information and working with the CIA.
This latest development comes after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps had captured a UK oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for violating international maritime laws.