World Iran claims arrest of 17 CIA spies; Pompeo: Iran has ‘long history of lying’
Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency said some of them have been sentenced to death. It was not clear whether all the alleged spies were Iranian nationals. There is no U.S. embassy or diplomatic presence in Iran, meaning there is no obvious diplomatic cover for American agents who may operate inside Iran. The Fars news agency published images that Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said show the CIA officers who it claimed were in touch with the suspected spies. The ministry said the agents infiltrated organizations and institutions in Iran’s private sector. There was no immediate reaction from the CIA, which rarely comments on its national security activities. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed Iran’s announcement. „The Iranian regime has a long history of lying,” he said in an interview on Fox News. In a tweet, President Donald Trump called Iran’s claim „totally false. Zero truth.” He said Iran’s economy is „dead” and „will get much worse.” White House national security adviser John Bolton, right, wants President Donald Trump to take a hard line with Iran.The arrests occurred over the past few months as Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers has been under increasing strain after Washington’s withdrawal a year ago and its renewal of economic sanctions on Iran. Tensions between the United States, Britain and Iran have spiked in the Persian Gulf region.Soon-to-depart British Prime Minister Theresa May chaired an emergency security session Monday to discuss how to respond to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway that is vital to the world’s oil supply.The Stena Impero tanker was seized Friday and is in a heavily guarded Iranian port. Britain is considering a number of options, though not military, to raise the pressure on Iran. The seizure followed a threat by Iran to respond to Britain’s impounding of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar, in the Mediterranean Sea, that Britain said was on its way to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions. Iran disputed that its tanker tried to reach Syria, a close ally.An audio recording released Sunday revealed the tense moments before the Stena Impero was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces rappelling from helicopters onto the ship’s deck. Iran alleged that the tanker collided with a fishing boat, then failed to respond to calls from the smaller boat.Washington said it wants to lead efforts to coordinate safety for vessels passing through the Persian Gulf. In the Fox News segment, Pompeo said, „It falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships.”British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said a European-led maritime protection mission would ensure safe passage of commercial ships in the region.Hunt called the Stena Impero’s seizure an „act of piracy.”Unlike the United States, Britain is still signed up to the nuclear deal with Iran. Speaking in Parliament, Hunt said his country was not interested in joining Trump’s „maximum pressure” campaign against Iran that includes onerous sanctions, asset freezes and the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – an organization with broad-based links to Iran’s military and businesses – as a terrorist organization.State TV in Iran aired a documentary Monday that purports to show a CIA officer recruiting an Iranian man in the United Arab Emirates. It was not clear whether the broadcast was connected to the announcement about the alleged spies.Last month, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claimed it „penetrated the U.S. safe system in cyberspace” used by the CIA for communicating with American agents, according to Press TV, a state-run network that broadcasts in English.”We’re ready for the absolute worst,” Trump said at the White House on Monday in response to a question about whether his administration is closer to negotiating or war with Iran. „(They) disrespected the United States. They shouldn’t have done that. … Frankly, it’s getting harder for me to make a deal with Iran.”This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Iran alleges arrest of 17 CIA spies
Iran says it arrested 17 Iranians allegedly recruited by CIA AYA BATRAWY and NASSER KARIMI•Iran says it arrested 17 Iranian nationals allegedly recruited by the CIA DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran on Monday announced the arrest of 17 Iranians accused of spying on the country’s nuclear and military sites for the CIA and said some of them have been sentenced to death. President Donald Trump called it „another lie” from Iran.The arrests happened over the past months, an Iranian intelligence official said at a news conference in Tehran. He said those taken into custody worked on „sensitive sites” in military and nuclear installations. The official did not say how many were given death sentences.The announcement came amid weeks of rising tensions between Washington and Tehran over Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers last year and impose sweeping sanctions on the country.The official said the 17 were recruited by the CIA and had „sophisticated training” but did not succeed in their sabotage missions. Their spying missions included collecting information at the facilities where they worked and installing monitoring devices, he said.He said some were staff members at the targeted facilities, and the rest were working as consultant and contractors. The official said the CIA had promised them U.S. visas or jobs in America.”That’s totally a false story. That’s another lie,” Trump said at the White House.Trump also said Iran has „disrespected” the United States, adding: „If they want to make a deal, frankly it’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran because they’ve behaved very badly. They’re saying bad things.”U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former CIA director, declined to address specifics of the arrests but said: „The Iranian regime has a long history of lying.””I think everyone should take with a grain of salt everything that the Islamic Republic of Iran asserts today,” he said.With tensions rising recently, the U.S. has increased its military presence in the region and is sending at least 500 U.S. soldiers to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s rival.Last month, U.S. officials said American military cyberforces struck Iranian Revolutionary Guard computers, disabling systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers. The cyberattack came after Trump backed away from an airstrike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone.The Iranian official did not give his name but was identified as the director of the counterespionage department of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. It is rare in Iran for intelligence officials to appear before media, or for any official to give a news conference without identifying himself.The official said some of the agents recruited by the CIA had turned and are now working with his department against the United States.He also handed out a CD with video of what Iran said was a foreign female spy working for the CIA. The disc also included the names of several U.S. Embassy staff members in Turkey, India, Zimbabwe and Austria who Iran said were in touch with the recruited Iranian spies. Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the U.S. and Israel. In June, Iran said it executed a former Defense Ministry employee convicted of spying for the CIA. In April, it said it uncovered 290 CIA spies inside and outside the country over the past several years._Karimi reported from Tehran, Iran. Associated Press writer Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed.