The Intelligence Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran says it has identified and dismantled an integrated network of 17 professional operatives trained by and serving the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) inside the country.
According to the Intelligence Ministry’s director-general for counterintelligence, all the operatives are Iranian nationals working as spies on behalf of the CIA throughout the past Iranian calendar year (March 2018 to March 2019).
The suspects were operating in key organizations and institutions mainly in the private sector, the official said on Monday.
“The spies identified were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information,” the official said in a statement.
Some of those arrested have received death sentences, and some of them prison terms.
According to the unnamed official, the CIA had recruited the Iranian spies by mainly contacting them over the Internet.
Other tactics used by the US intelligence included issuing or renewing US visas, hiring Iranian specialists, providing necessary equipment and access to certain participants in scientific events abroad, sending emails and messaging through social.
The Intelligence Ministry has also aired a documentary film of the agents it has arrested. The film shows interviews with some of the operatives, and shows how the CIA sent equipment to the agents.