Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced on Monday that they have arrested 17 Iranian nationals, charging them with being part of a CIA spy ring. A separate Fars news agency report quoted an Iranian intelligence official saying that some of them were sentenced to death.
An official identified as the director of the counterespionage department in the Intelligence Ministry stated in a Tehran press conference that the arrests took place over the last several months.
“The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centers in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas … where they collected classified information,” according to a ministry statement as read on Iran state television.
According to PressTV, the official in the press conference indicated the suspects were largely recruited via the internet by the CIA. Other methods included “issuing or renewing US visas, hiring Iranian specialists, and providing necessary equipment and access to certain participants in scientific events abroad.”
Last month, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced it had “penetrated the US safe system in cyberspace,” purporting to have been a system the American spy agency used to communicate with the spies. The discovery of the communication system was first announced in June by Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council. He said that the “cyber-espionage” network had been operating in countries other than Iran and that it had been discovered “a while ago.”
“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,” Shamkhani said weeks ago.
“It is interesting to know that one of the most complicated cyber networks run by the CIA in the area of cyber-espionage, which accounted for a major part of the CIA’s operational capacity in target countries, has been uncovered by Iran’s intelligence apparatus and [a serious] blow has been dealt to it,” Shamkhani was reported to have said, promising that more details would be forthcoming, apparently foretelling yesterday’s announcement.
“We relayed intelligence on the discovered [CIA] network, which was also active in a number of other countries, to our allies, which led to the collapse of the network of CIA’s intelligence officers as a result of which a number of spies were arrested and punished in various countries.”
“The Americans sensed danger after this development, finding their spies to be subject to threats,” said Shamkhani, as reported by PressTV in June. “Therefore, they put out an international recall, taking their spies of various nationalities out of the targeted countries. As a result, they lost a big intelligence network.”
According to the June article, the official said: “Some of the identified operatives have been referred to judicial authorities, some have been executed, and others were still being used in favor of intelligence goals.”
Identities of the 17 alleged spies are unknown.
The state television announcement on Monday broadcast images that it said were photos of CIA officers, in some cases with their families, who were handlers or were otherwise in touch with the suspected spies.
Also on Monday, an Iranian TV documentary aired that allegedly showed a CIA officer recruiting an Iranian man in the United Arab Emirates. Reuters reported …
“Because there are so many intelligence officers in Dubai. It is very dangerous… Iranian intelligence,” a woman was shown telling an Iranian in the documentary about alleged CIA spying in Iran which was broadcast on state television.
The woman spoke Persian with an accent which appeared to be American.
In the spiraling feud between Iran and the United States, this development will obviously only further deteriorate relations and heighten dangerous tensions.
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