Iran says ex-defense worker executed for selling info to CIA
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Iran says ex-defense worker executed for selling info to CIA

Reza Asgari was hanged last week, spokesman says, adding that execution of another man, accused of spying on top officials for CIA and Mossad, has not yet been carried out

Illustrative: Iranian police officers close the door of the court compound in Tehran, Iran, July 17, 2004. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Illustrative: Iranian police officers close the door of the court compound in Tehran, Iran, July 17, 2004. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran executed a former employee of the Defense Ministry after he was convicted of selling information on the country’s missile program to the US Central Intelligence Agency, a spokesperson for the judiciary announced Tuesday.

Gholamhossein Esmaili said the trial of Reza Asgari ended last week and he was hanged at its conclusion, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported.

According to the report, Esmaili said Asgari retired in 2012 and then began to sell the information to the American spy agency, but was under surveillance by security authorities.

“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.”

There were no specific details given on the information Asgari was alleged to have passed or whether it was linked to a series of recent mysterious explosions to rock an Iranian nuclear facility and other sensitive sites.

The explosions have been largely attributed to either Washington, Jerusalem, or both.

This photo released July 2, 2020, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows a building after it was damaged by a fire, at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

In the most significant instance, extensive damage was caused to a uranium enrichment facility used for centrifuge production at the Natanz nuclear site. Another blast “appeared to come from the direction of a missile base,” The New York Times reported.

A week before the Natanz blast, an explosion was felt in Tehran, apparently caused by an explosion at the Parchin military complex, which defense analysts believe holds an underground tunnel system and missile production facilities.

Esmaili additionally said that the death sentence for Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, an Iranian accused of spying for the CIA and Israel’s Mossad, had not yet been carried out.

Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, an Iranian man slated for execution for allegedly spying for Mossad and the CIA (Iranian media)

Last month, Iran said it would execute Mousavi Majd, who had been living in Syria and was allegedly paid by the two agencies.

He was accused of being in contact with Iranian military advisers operating in the country while gathering intelligence on Iran’s defense minister, the Revolutionary Guards’ extraterritorial Quds Force and the movements of military officials, including Quds Force chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad in January.

In June, Iran said another alleged spy, Jalal Hajizavar, was hanged in a prison near Tehran. The report said Hajizavar — also a former staffer of the defense ministry — had admitted in court that he was paid to spy for the CIA. The report said authorities had also confiscated espionage equipment from his residence. It said the court sentenced Hajizavar’s wife to 15 years in prison for her role in the espionage.

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

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

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

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

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