Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence claims to have detained 17 Iranian citizens accused of working for the CIA. CNN received a document from the Ministry of Intelligence that said, “Defendants serving their sentences in prison mentioning tempting promises of CIA officers including emigration to USA, a proper job in America, and money.”
According to the document the mission was to collect intelligence “from substantial centers as well as intelligence/technical operations.” The ministry also said some of the 17 detainees will be executed.
“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 Iranian state television.
Trump refuted the claim in a tweet on Monday, “The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also expressed his doubts on the claim while on Fox and Friends, “The Iranian regime has a long history of lying … I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions they’ve taken.”
Although Trump and Pompeo deny Iran’s claims, the CIA has a long history of involvement in Iran. Most notably, orchestrating the coup against democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Cal) pointed this out on twitter, “If true, we need more transparency and more answers about what the CIA is doing in Iran. What is the CIA’s goal here? We should not support any regime change in Iran, and instead learn from the 1953 overthrow of Mossadegh.”
President Trump has said he does not want regime change in Iran. If Trump did know about some kind of covert CIA operation in the country, he would most likely deny it since it would not help his efforts to get a “better deal.”
Last month, Iran executed a former contract employee for the aerospace organization of the defense ministry on charges of spying for the CIA. Convicting people on that charge is nothing new for Iran, but the high number of detainees in this recent case is unique.