18:18 GMT30 September 2020
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    Five Iranians have been arrested by Iranian authorities on charges of spying for Israel, Britain and Germany.

    At least two of the five people charged with spying have been convicted and handed prison sentences, according to a report by Reuters.

    During an online news conference on Tuesday, Iranian judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili named two of the five accused, one being Shahram Shirkhani, who has been charged with spying for Britain and attempting to recruit Iranian officials for MI6, the foreign intelligence service of the UK government.

    According to Esmaili, Shirkhani leaked sensitive information related to banking and defense ministry contracts. 

    Masoud Mosaheb was also named as one of the people who had been sentenced. Mosaheb, the co-chair of the Iranian-Austrian Friendship Society, which aims to promote relations between Iran and Austria, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking information on Iran’s “missile and nuclear projects” to Israel’s national intelligence agency, Mossad, and Germany’s federal intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, Esmaili said.

    The Austrian foreign ministry has failed to facilitate the release of Mosaheb, who has been imprisoned in Iran since January 2019, according to Reuters. 

    "Since the person detained in Iran is an Austrian-Iranian dual citizen ... Iran does not allow the monitoring of legal proceedings, visits to prison or access to trial and medical records," the Austrian ministry said in a statement to Reuters.

    Esmaili did not provide any other details on the other detainees, but claimed that each of them worked for Iranian state bodies.

    "We had the arrests in the foreign, defense and energy ministries as well as in the Atomic Energy Organization," Esmaili said.

    In a separate statement, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence recently said that a “number of spies related to foreign intelligence services were identified and arrested.” 

    “They sought to spy on sensitive and vital centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military and political areas for the CIA, the Mossad and some European countries,” said the televised statement, Reuters reported.

    However, it is unclear whether the individuals referred to in that statement are the same ones Esmaili spoke about.

    In early July, a fire broke out at Natanz, a significant Iranian nuclear facility. At the time, Iranian officials stated that the incident may have been caused by a cyberattack. However, it’s unclear if the fire was linked in any way to the individuals that have been accused of spying.

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