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Iran Claims Arrest of 17 CIA Spies     07/22 06:23

   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran said Monday it has arrested 17 Iranian nationals 
allegedly recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to spy on the country's 
nuclear and military sites, and that some of them have already been sentenced 
to death.

   The arrests took place over the past months and those taken into custody 
worked on "sensitive sites" in the country's military and nuclear facilities, 
an Iranian intelligence official told a press conference in Tehran.

   He did not elaborate, say how many of them got the death sentence nor when 
the sentences were handed down.

   The announcement comes as Iran's nuclear deal with world powers is 
unraveling and tensions have spiked in the Persian Gulf region. The crisis 
stems from President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of 
Tehran's deal last year and intensify sanction on the country.

   The Iranian official did not give his name but was identified as the 
director of the counterespionage department of Iran's Intelligence Ministry. 
Such a procedure is highly unusual in Iran; officials usually identify 
themselves at press conferences. It is also rare for intelligence officials to 
appear before the media.

   The official claimed that none of the 17, who allegedly had "sophisticated 
training," had succeeded in their sabotage missions. Their spying missions 
included collecting information at the facilities they worked at, carrying out 
technical and intelligence activities and transferring and installing 
monitoring devices, he said.

   The official further claimed the CIA had promised those arrested U.S. visas 
or jobs in America and that some of the agents had turned and were now working 
with his department "against the U.S."

   He also handed out a CD with a video recording of an alleged foreign female 
spy working for the CIA. The disc also included names of several U.S. Embassy 
staff in Turkey, India, Zimbabwe and Austria who Iran claims were in touch with 
the recruited Iranian spies.

   There was no immediate comment from Washington.

   Occasionally, Iran announces detentions of spies it says are working for 
foreign countries, including the U.S. and Israel. In June, Iran said it 
executed a former staff member of the Defense Ministry who was convicted of 
spying for the CIA.

   In April, Iran said it uncovered 290 CIA spies both inside and outside the 
country over the past years.


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