Last summer Iran began claiming to have busted a network of CIA spies within the country. Statements at the time described that Iranians embedded at key military and defense technology sites were in contact with CIA officers based in Arab Gulf countries.
While little detail has been given as to their identities, at least a dozen have faced capital offense cases for ‘treason’ and other charges.
Iran’s judiciary on Tuesday announced that it executed a defense ministry employee who was convicted for spying on behalf of the CIA.
The AP identifies the following based on Iranian state media:
The report said Reza Asgari was executed last week. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said Asgari had worked in the airspace department of the ministry and retired in 2016.
“In the last years of his service, he joined the CIA, he sold information about our missiles… to the CIA and took money from them,” Esmaili said. “He was identified, tried and sentenced to death.”
In some recent examples, Iranian officials have claimed some among the spies have “confessed” to working with the CIA or other Western intelligence agencies.
In other instances there are still Western travelers who ended up in Iranian political prisons on what seem to many like trumped up charges of spying and sabotage related activities.
For example in 2019 three Australian nationals were imprisoned – with one given a steep ten year prison sentence.
Often the charges are ambiguous with no evidence publicly issued.
In recent years such controversial detentions appear more for the sake of gaining leverage with Washington – in recent cases for example to conduct prisoner exchanges with the US. Both the US and UK have been in quiet back-channel negotiations with Tehran to get their citizens back, who most often are dual nationals holding US or UK and Iranian citizenship.