Iran convicts citizens for spying for foreign powers

Iran occasionally arrests those accused of spying on behalf of foreign countries, including the US and Israel.

Iran flag Tehran
Iran's national flag waves as the Milad telecommunications tower and buildings are seen in Tehran [File: Vahid Salemi/AP]

Iranian courts sentenced two men to 10 years each in jail for spying on the country for the United Kingdom, Germany and Israel in separate cases.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said one of the men, Massud Mossaheb, had been “spying for Mossad and Germany in the guise” of the general secretary of the Austrian-Iranian Society.

Mossaheb was found to have been providing them with information on Iran’s “missile, nuclear, nanotechnology and medical fields”, he said.

According to Austria’s Der Standard newspaper, Mossaheb had travelled to Iran to accompany a delegation from an Austrian research centre, which had opened a subsidiary near Tehran.

After his detention in January 2019, his family had no contact with him for weeks before eventually learning he was being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

A second man, Shahram Shirkhani, spied for British intelligence services and tried to recruit Iranian officials for the UK’s MI6 agency, said Esmaili.

Shirkhani had passed on classified information about Iran’s Central Bank and defence ministry contracts, he said.

Spies executed

Esmaili also said five more people had been arrested recently for alleged espionage in the foreign, defence, and industries ministries, companies working in the energy industry, and Iran’s atomic agency. No details on the other detainees were given.

Iran occasionally arrests and convicts those accused of spying on behalf of foreign countries, including the United States and Israel.

In July, Iran executed Reza Asgari, a former defence ministry employee convicted of spying on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, a member of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was also executed after being convicted of providing information to the US and Israel about the top Guard commander General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone attack in Baghdad in January of this year.

Tehran announced in December it arrested eight people “linked to the CIA” involved in nationwide street protests that erupted the month before over a surprise petrol price rise.

It also said in July 2019 it had dismantled a CIA spy ring, arresting 17 suspects between March 2018 and March 2019 and sentencing some of them to death.

US President Donald Trump at the time dismissed the claim as “totally false”.

Source: News Agencies