Iran state media claimed on Monday to have arrested 17 CIA spies that were there to surveil its nuclear and military sites.
Some of those captured have been sentenced to death “as corruptors of the Earth,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
The roundup of the alleged espionage cell ensnared 17 people during the past several months and was completed by the end of March, an Iranian official said at a news conference in Tehran. The official was identified only as the director of the counterespionage department of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, which is highly unusual in Iran, as officials usually identify themselves at press conferences.
"The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centers in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas...where they collected classified information," said a ministry statement read on state television. (FoxNews.com)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not comment directly on the report but cautioned that the regime has a history of lying.
"It's part of their nature to lie to the world," Pompeo told "Fox & Friends" on Monday. "I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions they've taken."
The Fars news agency report included photos of the CIA officers who were in touch with the spies, including family photos, business cards, as well as other identifying information.
News of the arrests come after mounting tensions between Iran and the West over the strained nuclear deal and Washington's withdrawal from the accord last year, as well as a number of recent Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf against oil tankers and a U.S. drone.