Four people have been handed the death penalty by Iran’s judiciary after being accused of working with the intelligence services of Israel and kidnapping, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.
Referring to Israel, Mehr said on Wednesday they were “sentenced to death for the crime of cooperating with the intelligence services of the Zionist regime and for kidnapping”.
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It added: “With guidance from the Zionist intelligence service, this network of thugs was stealing and destroying private and public property, kidnapping people, and obtaining fake confessions.”
The judiciary’s Mizan Online website identified the men as Hossein Ordoukhanzadeh, Shahin Imani Mahmoudabad, Milad Ashrafi Atbatan and Manouchehr Shahbandi Bojandi, without elaborating on their backgrounds.
Tehran has long accused Israel of carrying out covert operations on its soil, with the Islamic republic accusing its arch foe of carrying out sabotage attacks against its nuclear sites and assassinations of key figures, including scientists.
Iran has lately accused Israeli and Western intelligence services of plotting a civil war in the country, now gripped by some of the biggest anti-government protests since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Mehr said the accused had been arrested by the elite Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence.
Mizan Online said three other defendants were sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison for crimes against the country’s security, complicity in kidnapping and possession of weapons.
The latest court ruling comes at a time of heightened tensions in Iran after more than two months of protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.
The 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman died on September 16 after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s dress code for women.