IRAN: Intelligence Ministry claims to arrest 30 alleged CIA spies
Iran claimed a major intelligence victory over the United States on Saturday, saying it uncovered and dismantled what it called a "complex espionage and sabotage network" and arrested 30 people allegedly spying for the CIA.
It claimed that it also arrested 42 others in connection to the alleged spy network, the website of Iran's state-owned Press TV website reported.
According to a statement by the Intelligence Ministry published on the website of the semi-official Mehr news agency (link in Persian), the network was run by CIA agents via U.S. embassies in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Malaysia.
"Due to the massive intelligence and counterintelligence work by Iranian intelligence agents, a complex espionage and sabotage network linked to America's spy organization was uncovered and dismantled," said a statement from the Intelligence Ministry read on state TV.
There was no immediate response by U.S. officials.
In the Iranian regime's shadowy worldview, foreign "agents" and "spies" are constantly working to undermine the country's goals. But the detailed nature of Saturday's announcement was unusual.
Iran claimed the arrests were conducted by an elite squad belonging to the Iranian Intelligence Ministry in various sting operations, according to the statement. The nationalities of those arrested were not immediately clear, nor when the arrests were made.
"Elite agents of the Intelligence Ministry in their confrontation with the CIA elements were able to arrest 30 America-linked spies through numerous intelligence and counterintelligence operations," the statement said.
Mehr cited the Intelligence Ministry as saying the spy network was active simultaneously in several undisclosed countries and under the cover of labor recruitment agencies. "The elites, educated and naive people were recruited to get visas, residency permits, education abroad and employment," the agency quoted the Intelligence Ministry as saying.
"Thanks to the sincere endeavor of your children by collecting intelligence through infiltrating in the network and by penetrating in the network through double agents, we managed to disband the network and arrest the 30 spies in and outside of the country," the statement said.