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Iran Sentences Two For Spying, Arrests Several Others

Iran's special security forces during a drill in 2019. FILE PHOTO
Iran's special security forces during a drill in 2019. FILE PHOTO

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman on Tuesday said two individuals have been convicted and sentenced for spying and several other spies have been arrested in recent days.

In his weekly virtual press briefing, Gholam-Hossein Esmaili said Masoud Mosaheb, the Iranian-Austrian co-chairman of the Iran-Austrian Friendship Society, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Esmaili said Mosahab was connected with German and Israeli secret services and provided "foreigners with information on military, nuclear, nano-technology and healthcare projects".

The 74-year-old businessman was arrested in February 2018 while visiting Iran as part of an Austrian research team.

He also announced that an individual named Shahram Shirkhani has also been sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying for Britain. Esmaili alleged that Shirkhani has sold sensitive information in various areas to Britain, had tried to "recruit some managers and agents for secret services and also provided them with Central Bank of Iran (CBI), Melli Bank and Defense Ministry contracts.

As the Islamic republic feels severe pressures from U.S. sanctions and a volatile political mood among the population, it has resorted to more arrests and executions to spread fear and show it is control.

According to Esmaili the Intelligence Ministry has in recent months arrested several other individuals for spying including people from the Foreign Ministry, government organizations responsible for procuring "spare-parts in the field of energy [production], Defense Ministry and the Atomic Energy Agency.

A few hours after Esmaili's press briefing the Intelligence Ministry's Public Relations in a statement quoted the Counter-Espionage Deputy of the Intelligence Ministry as saying that a number of spies who were connected with western powers had been arrested.

The deputy who was not named in the statement said foreign secret services' agents had used "complex and varied methods to collect information on Iran's nuclear, political, economic, military and infrastructural projects for the CIA, Mossad and European countries that are involved in the recent espionage cases".

He also claimed these agents attempted to "sabotage infrastructures and projects, intensify the unjust sanctions and prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from attaining modern knowledge and technologies" as well as creating challenges between Iran and its neighbors.

Iran executed a former Defense Ministry employee, Reza Asgari, in July for allegedly spying for the CIA, as well as Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, purportedly a member of the Revolutionary Guard, for providing information to the United States and Israel on the whereabouts of Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani before he was killed in a U.S. drone attack on January 3 in Baghdad.

Another former Defense Ministry employee, Jalal Hajizavar, was also hanged in June for spying for the CIA.

In February the Supreme Court confirmed a death sentence for Amir Rahimpour who was convicted of spying for the CIA. The state media alleged that he had shared details of Iran's nuclear program with the CIA.

Esmaili also said arresting Jamshid Sharmahd, the leader of a U.S. based monarchist group called Tondar on August 1 was "very good". He charged that "countries that pretend [defending] human rrights have become safe havens for terrorists".

According to Iranian sources including IRNA, Tondar had claimed responsibility for a January 2010 explosion at a mausoleum in Shiraz which killed 14 and left over 200 others wounded.