TEHRAN — A news agency in Iran said a group of suspected Israeli spies have gone on trial in the country’s southeast.
Judge Dadkhoda Salari was quoted Saturday by the semiofficial Mehr news agency as saying that the group was led by three people who recruited some 60 Iranians to conspire against Iran’s ruling Islamic government and passed information on to Israel.
Salari was quoted as saying many of those charged confessed during interrogation. He said they acted against Iran’s security, collected information and transferred it outside the country and assisted anti-religious establishments in Israel. He didn’t provide further details, nor said when they were tried or if they were sentenced to prison.
Iran periodically announces the arrest of suspects charged with espionage or attempts to sabotage its nuclear facilities. It normally does not release further details.
Earlier this month, unusually, Iran did not accuse Israel of responsibility for the death of a key cyber war operative, Mojtaba Ahmadi, who was found dead northwest of Tehran. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said he had died in a “horrific incident,” but ruled out assassination.
In August, Iran said it had arrested a man suspected of spying for Israel. The suspect, whose name was not revealed, allegedly contacted a security officer at the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok while visiting Thailand on business. Iranian authorities said the man offered to pass on information to Israel but was apprehended before he could do so. The same judge, Dadkhoda Salari, will reportedly preside at his trial.
Two months earlier, Iran claimed to have busted an Israeli-British spy network, arresting 12 people for allegedly plotting “sabotage and assassination.”
Iran has also made several claims of having arrested “American spies” in the country.
In 2011, Iran said it arrested Iranian-American Amir Hekmati, 30, on charges of spying for the CIA. Hekmati had been on a family trip to the country when he was arrested by authorities in August 2011. In December that year, a video of Hekmati “confessing” to the charges was released by Iran.
Last month, Israel arrested an Iranian man with Belgian citizenship who officials believe is an agent of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and whose main mission was to spy on American interests inside Israel. He was indicted last week.
The indictment details how Ali Mansouri entered Israel three times, posing as a Belgian businessman working to open a company in Israel.
Mansouri was arrested at Ben-Gurion International Airport on September 11 by the Shin Bet security service while attempting to depart Israel for Belgium.
Mansouri was found with photographs of the US Embassy and other potentially sensitive locations, according to authorities. The Shin Bet said that it was investigating whether Mansouri’s handlers received digital copies of the surveillance photos and whether he was tasked with observing IDF bases or soldiers.