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IRAN captured 17 US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spies and sentenced some to death, Iranian media reported today.
The spies were captured in March for allegedly passing information on the country’s nuclear and military sites on to CIA officials.
Some of them had been recruited by falling into a “visa trap” set by the CIA for Iranians seeking to travel to the US, the intelligence ministry revealed.
“Some were approached when they were applying for a visa, while others had visas from before and were pressured by the CIA in order to renew them,” a ministry official said.
A ministry statement said: “The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private-sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military and cyber areas where they collected classified information.”
It is not clear yet how many of the alleged spies received the death sentence when the sentences were handed down.
There was no immediate comment on the Iranian allegations by the CIA or US officials.
Iran announced in June that it had broken up an alleged CIA spy ring, but it is unclear if today’s announcement was linked to the same case.
The announcement could further escalate tensions between Tehran and Washington.
In recent weeks the US has blamed Iran for attacks on shipping near the Strait of Hormuz, the global oil trade’s most important waterway, which Iran has denied.
Both nations have shot down drones operated by the other side and Iran captured a British-registered tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.
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