Iran sentences ‘CIA spies’ to death after ‘breaking ring’
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Iran says it has broken up a CIA spying ring and sentenced some of the 17 suspects to death.
According to an Intelligence Ministry statement read on state TV, the alleged spies were “employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information”.
Suspects were arrested during previous months, an Iranian intelligence official told a press conference.
He did not say how many had been sentenced to death, and did not give his name, which is unusual.
Reporters were told, however, that he was the director of the counterespionage department at Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.
Last month, Iran said it had exposed a large cyber espionage network it alleged was run by the CIA – although it is unclear whether this latest development is linked to that.
Spies had been arrested in different countries, it claimed.
There have been months of increasing tension between Iran and the West since tighter US sanctions came into effect at the start of May.
On Saturday, Iran released a video which it claimed disproved President Donald Trump’s claim that a US warship destroyed an Iranian drone.
The American president said the USS Boxer took “defensive action” on Thursday after the drone ignored repeated warnings and came within 1,000 yards of the ship in the Strait of Hormuz.
But Iranian state TV showed video it said was taken by the drone on Thursday of USS Boxer and another American warship.
There have also been increased tensions between the UK and Iran, after a British-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero, was seized in the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has linked its capture of the vessel with Britain’s role in detaining a tanker carrying Iranian oil earlier this month.
Theresa May is due to chair a meeting of the government’s cobra emergency committee on Monday to discuss Britain’s response.