Iran claims arrest of ‘Zionist spy’ planning to sabotage security

Prosecutor says unnamed suspect was active in Iran under guise as businessperson and traveled to neighboring countries to transmit intel and receive training

Demonstrators burn representations of Israeli and US flags during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Demonstrators burn representations of Israeli and US flags during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian authorities have arrested a “Zionist spy” in the southern Kerman province, according to a Tuesday report in the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The agency cited a local prosecutor who claimed the suspect was an agent of the “Zionist intelligence service,” ostensibly referring to the Mossad.

The prosecutor described the suspect as a acting under the guise of being a businessperson who had traveled abroad, including to a neighboring country, “with the purpose of passing information and receiving training to conduct acts of sabotage.”

He said the alleged spy had planned to “undermine security” in Kerman before being caught by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The suspect had also planned to meet an Israeli agent in a nearby country to receive a new mission, he claimed.

The report alleged that the suspect communicated with his Israeli handlers from inside Iran via encrypted technology.

Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the United States and Israel, though it does not provide evidence to back up such claims.

Iranian leaders have also recently claimed that popular unrest across the country against the regime’s repression of women is being orchestrated by Israel and the US.

Last month, Iranian media reported the regime’s arrest of a dozen members of the Baha’i religious group on allegations they were spying for Israel.

The General Intelligence Department of Mazandaran Province in the north of the country claimed in a statement that two of those arrested were “trained” at the Baha’i center in Haifa, Israel, the religious group’s global center.

It said they formed a network of spies throughout Mazandaran.

The Baha’i International Community said the arrests were part of an Iranian campaign of repression against adherents of the religion over the past month, which has included arrests, beatings, home demolitions and denial of access to higher education, among other measures.

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran head Asghar Zarean points at parts he says were exported to the country with alleged purpose of sabotage and spying on Iran’s nuclear facilities, in Tehran, Iran, on Sept. 1, 2014. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

A week earlier, Amnesty International released a report saying Iran has ramped up its “ruthless” persecution of Baha’is, the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the Islamic Republic.

In August Iran arrested several members of the group and also accused them of spying for Israel.

The Baha’i religion was founded in Iran in the mid-1800s. Its prophet, Baháʼu’lláh, was exiled from Iran and went to Baghdad, then to Turkey. Ottoman authorities imprisoned him in Acre, in modern-day Israel, which was then under Ottoman control.

In July, Iranian media reported that an alleged Israeli spy network made up of five individuals had been arrested in Iran, the second such group detention announced within a week.

Israel is thought to have been behind a number of attacks in Iran in recent years, including sabotage against nuclear facilities and the killing of the former head of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem has never claimed responsibility for the incidents, but reports have pointed to its involvement.

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