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Iran's Nuclear 'Espionage' Saga Continues

Iranian Minister for Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi.

The Islamic Republic’s judiciary affiliated news website, Mizan has dismissed the Intelligence Minister’s assertion that his ministry is the only competent body to determine who is a spy.

The Intelligence Minister, Mahmoud Alavi, on Wednesday, October 11, had rejected accusations that a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, was a spy.

Alavi had even said that Dorri Esfahani was collaborating with the counterespionage department of his ministry, while the Judiciary has sentenced him to five years in prison.

The minister had also claimed, “The only professional reference for discernment of espionage activities in the Islamic Republic is the department of counterespionage run by the deputy of the intelligence minister”.

Apparently, Mizan's report is directed at this part of Alavi's statement.

Based on quotations made by unnamed sources, Mizan has dismissed the claim that the Intelligence Ministry is the only authority responsible for cases related to espionage.

“The only competent authority to convict or acquit people accused of spying is the court of law”, Mizan has reported, noting, “Based on a final verdict, Dorri Esfahani has been convicted and sentenced for espionge”.

Furthermore, Mizan has argued, “There is no law stipulating that the Intelligence Ministry is the sole authority responsible for certifying or rejecting that an act of espionage has taken place, or who is guilty of spying, who is not”.

Without any elaboration, Mizan has also cited its unnamed sources as noting, “There have already been legal cases that the courts of law have disagreed with the information provided by the Intelligence Ministry, acquitting people accused of espionage”.

Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani’s saga began a year ago, when in August 2016 news outlets close to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC reported his arrest.

The reports said he had been arrested on suspicion of "selling the country's economic information to foreigners."

He was later granted bail, which is rare in Iran for those accused of serious crimes, and denied the allegations. But last Sunday the Judiciary announced his conviction on the same charges.

While apparently unending saga of Dorri Esfahani is still going on, a conservative cleric MP, Mojtaba Zonnour disclosed on Thursday, “Two other members of Iran’s nuclear negotiation team have also been accused of espionage and collaborating with foreign governments”.

Zonnour has not mentioned the name of the two or their position in Iran’s nuclear negotiation team, but admitted, “One of the accused is living in Canada and the other has also fled Iran”.

The Islamic Republic has multiple security and intelligence units. The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC, has its own vast intelligence apparatus and often acts on its own to arrest people even for vague charges unrelated to national security.

On the overall political line-up of forces, the IRGC is a close ally of Iran’s Judiciary and both are under the Supreme Leader’s control.