12:26 GMT20 September 2020
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    Iran’s judiciary has announced it is seeking the death penalty for several suspects arrested last year and accused of spying for the United States.

    Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said in comments earlier this week on Iranian television that an unspecified number of suspects could face execution following their military tribunals. However, he further clarified that "two of the defendants, who were not military, have received long prison terms," the London-based Al-Araby reported Tuesday.

    Last August, Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said security forces had arrested “tens of spies,” noting many of them had dual-citizenship, but not specifying with which other countries, Sputnik reported.

    Last month, Tehran said it busted a CIA-run "large US cyber-espionage" network in conjunction with several other countries, although Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, declined to name the partners in his TV announcement.

    On June 22, another accused spy was executed at Iran’s Rajaishahr Prison. Jalal Haji Zwar, a former defense contractor with the Aerospace Industries Organization, was found guilty of passing the CIA information. His wife was sentenced to 15 years in prison for helping him.

    The US Central Intelligence Agency has a long history of operations in Iran, including its most infamous, the 1953 operation dubbed “Operation Ajax,” in which the US and British governments collaborated to overthrow the Iranian government led by Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq. The coup saw the return of Mohammad Reza Shah, a brutal pro-Western ruler who was finally thrown out for good in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the present government to power. 

    More recently, the infamous Stuxnet computer virus cut its way through Iran's Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility in June 2009, destroying roughly 20% of the country’s nuclear fuel enrichment capacity. The virus is widely believed to be the creation of US and Israeli intelligence.

    In 2017, the CIA established a special “Iran Mission Center” to oversee the agency’s operations against Iran, which it largely cast as defensive in nature, historian Vijay Prashad reported in a recent article in Common Dreams. Prashad noted the center was specifically made to replace the Iran Operations Division, or “Persia House,” which wasn’t seen by the new war hawks as pushing regime change strongly enough.


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    spying, trial, espionage, Death penalty, CIA, Iran
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