On November 27th, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced the arrest of 8 CIA-linked individuals, who were allegedly trying to collect information on the recent protests in the country and convey it to the outside of the country.
State outlet IRNA cited the director general of the anti-espionage department of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, who said that these individuals had received CIA-funded training in various countries.
“These elements that had received CIA-funded training in various countries to gather information under the guise of citizen-journalists had been monitored for quite a long time,” the official said, adding that they had received orders to attend the riots and to prepare exact reports, especially videos.
“Six of them were arrested while attending the riots and carrying out orders of [US’s] intelligence services and two others were identified and apprehended while trying to … send information abroad before they could leave the country,” the official added.
Iranian officials and Iranian media maintain that the protests were predominantly peaceful, with them turning violent in some cities due to attempts of foreign-orchestrated rioters who took advantage of the situation.
Also on November 27th, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his sanctions-hit country had foiled a “very dangerous” plot after the violent demonstrations.
“The people foiled a deep, vast and very dangerous conspiracy on which a lot of money was spent for destruction, viciousness and the killing of people,” Khamenei said, quoted on state television.
Officials in Iran have confirmed five people were killed and so far, announced about 500 arrests, including of some 180 “ringleaders”. Both Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York, and Amnesty International claimed that the death count stood at more than 100.
This isn’t the first time Iran claims that it has arrested individuals linked to foreign intelligence.
In late July 2019, the same director-general for counterintelligence announced that 17 professional spies working on behalf of the CIA were arrested in the country. Some of them were even sentenced to death.
“The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centers in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information,” the unnamed official said in a statement.
Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the US and Israel.
In June 2019, Iran said it executed a former Defense Ministry employee convicted of spying for the CIA.
In April 2019, Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said Iran uncovered 290 CIA spies inside and outside the country over the past several years.
Alavi said that the operations orchestrated by 114 radical groups, 116 teams affiliated with Mujahedin-e Khalq terrorist organization (MKO aka, MEK), 44 anti-Revolution teams, 380 narcotic smuggling gangs have been foiled.
Reports such as this are somewhat customary, and they are also usually accompanied by little evidence. In some cases, they could be a way for Iran to establish the image of the “enemy” so as to improve national morale in the struggle against the Washington-led establishment. Regardless the real number of detained CIA operatives in Iran, the US activity to destabilize the country is an open secret.
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