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Iran says breaks up CIA spy ring, some sentenced to death: report

FILE PHOTO: A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the US, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015. Reuters
2019-07-22

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SULAIMANI — Iran has captured 17 spies working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and some have been sentenced to death, Iranian media reported on Monday (July 22).

State television quoted the Intelligence Ministry as saying it had broken up a CIA spying ring and captured 17 suspects. A ministry official said some of those arrested had been sentenced to death, the semi-official Fars news agency reported according to Reuters.

The announcement comes after three months of spiraling 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.

“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,” said a ministry statement read on state television.

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.

Also on Monday, an Iranian television documentary aired that purported to show a CIA officer recruiting an Iranian man in the United Arab Emirates.

“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.

The woman spoke Persian with an accent which appeared to be American.

Later, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed the claims.

“The Iranian regime has a long history of lying ... I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News Channel.

Pompeo declined to comment about any specific cases, but added: “There’s a long list of Americans that we are working to get home from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)

This story was updated at 4:05 pm EBL