National Security

Iran Issues Death Sentence for Israeli Spy, Claims U.S. Agents Also Imprisoned

'Foreign spies' seeking information on Iran's nuclear, military research

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images

Iranian counter-intelligence officials disclosed on Wednesday that they have discovered foreign spies who have been working to obtain information on the country's military and aerospace industries, according to recent remarks in which Iranian officials claim to have issued the death sentence for at least one Israeli spy and the imprisonment of several Americans.

So-called "foreign spies" from the United States, Israel, and possibly other countries have been working to infiltrate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, and agencies tied to Iran's aerospace sector, which is closely linked with the Islamic Republic's pursuit of ballistic missile technology, according to the country's state-run media.

Hassan Emami, the deputy head of the IRGC's counter intelligence organization, disclosed these alleged spy plots in remarks carried by the country's state-controlled media apparatus.

The U.S. State Department would not comment on any of the claims made by the IRGC official.

The military leader claimed that at least four "U.S.-linked agents" had been recently sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison for the alleged spy operations and that at least one Israeli has been given a death sentence.

"The foreign spy agencies are after gathering intelligence, hiring spies, and infiltrating sensitive fields, research centers, the IRGC Aerospace Force, Quds Force, and other centers," Emami was quoted as saying.

Iranian officials claim that each year they identify and arrest "several spies working for foreign intelligence agencies."

"We adopt counter and offensive measures" to detect such activity, Emami claimed in his remarks.

As recently as October, Iran sentenced what it claims was an Israeli spy tied to the country's Mossad intelligence agency to a death sentence, though it remains unclear what evidence Iranian courts used to decide the verdict.

"One of the crimes of the convict has been disclosing the address and some details of 30 important figures involved in [the country's] research, military, and nuclear projects, including [Iranian nuclear scientists] martyrs Shahriari and Alimohammadi, to Mossad intelligence officers which led to their assassination and martyrdom," Jafari Dolatabadi, a prosecutor in Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts, claimed in remarks about the case.

The alleged Israeli spy is said to have met with Mossad officers at least eight times and passed along intelligence about Iran's military and nuclear sites, according to these Iranian officials.

In September, Iran sentenced what it claims were four "U.S.-linked agents" to 10-year jail sentences for alleged spy operations.

"A court in Tehran has sentenced four infiltrators and U.S.-linked agents to 10-year jail terms each; the ruling has been confirmed by the country's Appeals Court," Dolatabadi said in remarks on the case.

Asked for further information about the claims of imprisonment and spying, the U.S. State Department declined to comment.

"We are not going to comment on every statement by an Iranian official," an administration official told the Washington Free Beacon.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran's paranoia over spying can be exploited by the United States to generate divisions in the ruling regime.

"Iran has always been a paranoid regime, but the true ideologues inside the Revolutionary Guard leadership bring new meaning to paranoia and xenophobia. Let's hope it's true and use Iranian paranoia to our advantage," Rubin said. "If we're not trying to exploit divisions within and infiltrate the IRGC, the leaders of our intelligence and strategic bureaucracies are incompetent. There can be no change within Iran without the collapse of the IRGC."