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EghtesadOnline: Iran has captured 17 people acting as spies for the US Central Intelligence Agency and some of them have been sentenced to death, the Intelligence Ministry said on Monday.

This pertained to the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2019), the ministry's director general for counterintelligence said in a press briefing in Tehran, ISNA reported.   

The official, whose identity was not revealed, added that these people were all Iranian nationals and some of them will be executed for "spreading corruption on earth", a capital offense under Iran's Islamic laws. 

"The identified spies include individuals employed at sensitive and vital centers and also the private sector related to them, working as contractors or consultants," he said, adding that these centers were active in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military and cyber areas, Financial Tribune reported.

These people had acted independent of each other and some of them had been recruited after falling into a "visa trap" set by the CIA for Iranians seeking to travel to the United States or renew their visas, he said. 

The official explained that CIA had recruited these individuals through different means, including contacting them over the Internet or approaching them on the sidelines of scientific conferences in European, African or Asian countries. 



‘Timely’ Action

According to the official, all those arrested have confessed to acting as spies for CIA and failed to carry out any acts of sabotage due to the "timely" action of Iranian intelligence forces.

Asked whether the group includes senior officials, he said, "These people are technicians and experts." 

An Iranian television documentary aired on Monday revealed more details about the CIA spying ploys. 

The announcement comes after months of rising confrontations between Iran and the West following US President Donald Trump's 2018 decision to unilaterally withdraw from the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran, as well as an accelerating series of recent maritime episodes, including Iran's seizure of a UK-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. 

It was not clear if the arrests were linked to the case in June when Iran announced that it had busted a large cyber espionage network run by CIA and that several US spies had been arrested in different countries as a result of this action.

"We provided the information on the exposed network to some other allied countries where it had been operating, which resulted in the exposing and dismantling of the US intelligence officers network and the arrest and conviction of some CIA agents in different countries," Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying by Press TV.  

Iran also announced in June that it had executed a former contract employee of the Defense Ministry’s aerospace organization who had been convicted of spying for CIA.


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