Iran executes former defence ministry staffer linked to CIA

4 months ago 9
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Iran has executed a former defence ministry employee convicted of spying on behalf of the US's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the country's judiciary said.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Tuesday that Reza Asgari, who had worked in the aerospace department of the ministry and retired in 2016, had been executed last week.

"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."

Esmaili added that the death sentence for Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, another Iranian accused of spying for US and Israeli intelligence, is among those still to be carried out.

Majd was accused of spying on Iran's armed forces and helping the US to locate Qassem Soleimani, the top Iranian general assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

Iran retaliated with ballistic missiles aimed at US troops stationed in Iraq, but US President Donald Trump opted against responding militarily.

In June 2019, Iran had announced the hanging of alleged spy, Jalal Haji Zavar, in a prison near Tehran.

Authorities said Haji Zavar, also a former staffer of the defence ministry, had admitted in court that he was paid to spy for the CIA, adding that they confiscated espionage equipment from his residence.

Haji Zavar's wife was reportedly sentenced to 15 years in prison for her role in the espionage.

Iran in February handed down a similar sentence for Amir Rahimpour, another man convicted of spying for the US and conspiring to sell information on Iran's nuclear programme.

Last year, the country announced it had captured 17 spies it said were working for the CIA.

Protesters to be executed

In another development on Tuesday, Esmaili announced that Iran's Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentences of three Iranians accused of taking part in protests in November last year.

The three suspects were violent ringleaders, he said, and had set fire to a number of buildings and transport facilities.

Esmaili said the men had recorded their actions on their phones and the evidence had been considered by the court. The verdicts could still be revised, he added.

Iran was rocked by days of unrest following a rise in petrol prices in November 2019. The protests were violently suppressed by security forces, with many people killed and hundreds arrested.

Iran's government referred to the demonstrators as paid mercenaries of its arch enemies - the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia - and claimed the protesters' aim was to weaken or even bring down the government.

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