Iran says it has detained 17 citizens accused of spying for the CIA, and that some of them will be executed.
The country’s intelligence ministry said it had broken up a spying ring consisting of Iranian who were lured by a chance to move to the US and work there,CNN reported on Monday.
The suspects were “employed in sensitive and vital private sector centers in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas … where they collected classified information,” an Iranian intelligence official told state TV on Monday,according to Sky News.
The intelligence official did not give his name, which Sky News said is unusual.
The CIA has not yet responded to Iran’s announcement.
The mission of the alleged spies had been to collect classified information “from substantial centers as well as intelligence/technical operations,” the intelligence ministry said in a document, cited by CNN.
Iranian authorities arrested the alleged spies months ago, and many of them have been detained in prison since, according to Sky News and CNN reported.
Some of the suspects have also been sentenced to death, though the unnamed intelligence official did not say how many, Sky News reported.
Iran’s intelligence ministry said in a document, as cited by CNN: “Defendants serving their sentences in prison mentioning tempting promises of CIA officers including emigration to USA, a proper job in America, and money.”
All 17 suspectshave confessed to spying for the CIA, CNN said.
Amnesty International reportedlast week, however, that Iranian authorities have a history of using solitary confinement and threats against family members to make people unsavory to the regime confess to crimes they didn’t commit.
Iranian authorities seized two British-linked oil tankers in the strait last Friday, in what appears to be retaliation to the UK’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off the British territory of Gibraltar on July 4.Iran seized the British-flagged Stena Impero,and briefly detained another ship, the Mescar.
US President Donald Trump last week also said a US warship had shot down an Iranian drone, though Tehran has repeatedly said this didn’t happen.
Iran and the West remain at odds over the 2015 nuclear deal and crippling US sanctions. Tehran violated a 300 kg limit on enriched uranium earlier this month and has vowed to increase its stockpile.