Iran Says 2 Convicted of Spying for Israel, Germany, UK

A building after it was damaged by a fire last month at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, some 200 miles south of the capital Tehran, Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, File)

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran said Tuesday that its courts have sentenced two men to 10 years each in jail for spying on the Islamic republic for Britain, Germany and Israel in separate cases.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said one of the men, Massud Mossaheb, had been “spying for (Israeli spy agency) Mossad and Germany in the guise” of the general secretary of the Austrian-Iranian Society.

Mossaheb was found to have been providing them with information on Iran’s “missile, nuclear, nanotechnology and medical fields”, he added.

The second man, Shahram Shirkhani, had been working for British intelligence, the spokesman said, quoted by the state television website.

Shirkhani had been seeking to “corrupt authorities and recruit” people and give away information on “contracts related to the central bank, Melli Bank and the defence ministry.”

Esmaili also said five more people had been arrested recently for alleged espionage in the foreign, defense and industries ministries, companies working in the energy industry, and Iran’s atomic agency.

He did not give their identities or elaborate on their charges.

Austria called in mid-2019 for the release of Mossaheb, who was then 72 years old.

It said no formal charges had been pressed and the reason for his detention was unknown.

According to Austria’s Der Standard newspaper, Mossaheb had travelled to Iran to accompany a delegation from an Austrian research center which had opened a subsidiary near Tehran.

After his detention in January 2019, his family had no contact with him for weeks before eventually learning that he was being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.

The Austrian-Iranian Society says its aim is to foster closer ties between the two countries, particularly in the economic sphere.

Iran has recently announced several detentions and in some cases executions of people found guilty of spying by its courts.

The most recent was Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, a former translator executed last month for spying for the US and Israel, including helping to locate top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani killed later by the Americans in Iraq.

Iran executed another man named Reza Asgari in July, after he was convicted of spying on Iran’s missile program for the U.S. CIA.

And in February Tehran handed down a similar sentence for Amir Rahimpour, another man convicted of spying for Washington and of conspiring to sell information on Iran’s nuclear program.

Tehran announced in December it arrested eight people “linked to the CIA” involved in nationwide street protests that erupted the month before over a surprise petrol price hike.

It also said in July 2019 that it had dismantled a CIA spy ring, arresting 17 suspects between March 2018 and March 2019 and sentencing some of them to death.

U.S. President Donald Trump at the time dismissed the claim as “totally false.”

© Agence France-Presse

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