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Iran jails two for alleged spying, arrests several others on espionage charges

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili (Zahra Hoseini/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran said it arrested what it called “a number of spies” and jailed two men over alleged espionage for Britain, Germany, and Israel.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on August 11 that Iranian-Austrian citizen Masud Mosaheb had been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Esmaili charged that Mosaheb, who served as chairman of the Iran-Austrian Friendship Society, was connected to German and Israeli intelligence and provided “foreigners with information on military, nuclear, nanotechnology, and health-care projects.”

Austria’s Kurier newspaper reported that the 73-year-old Mosaheb had been detained in January 2019 while leading a delegation to Iran for a medicine project.

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The Austrian Foreign Ministry said it had no access to Mosaheb because Iran does not recognize dual nationals and considers dual nationals as subject to Iranian laws.

Esmaili claimed that the second jailed man, identified as Shahram Shirkhani, had been working for British intelligence. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Iranian judiciary spokesman alleged that Shirkhani had sought to “corrupt authorities and recruit” people as well as give away information on “contracts related to the central bank, Melli Bank, and the Defense Ministry.”

Esmaili said five more people had been arrested recently for what authorities claim was espionage, but he did not provide names or elaborate on the charges against the accused.

Separately, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said “a number of spies related to foreign intelligence services were identified and arrested.”

The ministry claims they “sought to spy on sensitive and vital centers in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military, and political areas” for U.S., Israeli, and European intelligence agencies.

Tehran has recently announced several arrests, and in some cases executions, of people who’ve been convicted by the Iranian courts on espionage charges.