Iran General NewsIran arrests 3 militia volunteers as Israeli spies

Iran arrests 3 militia volunteers as Israeli spies

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ImageNew York Times: Iran has broken a spy ring working for Israeli’s intelligence service, Mossad, and will seek the death penalty for three suspects in custody, Iran’s prosecutor general announced Tuesday.

The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI
Published: November 26, 2008

ImageTEHRAN — Iran has broken a spy ring working for Israeli’s intelligence service, Mossad, and will seek the death penalty for three suspects in custody, Iran’s prosecutor general announced Tuesday.

The prosecutor general, Saeed Mortazavi, said that the suspects, members of Basij, Iran’s volunteer militia, were expected to get close to senior members of the Revolutionary Guards so they could “assassinate military scientists and blow up strategic military and missile facilities.” At a news conference covered by the semiofficial Fars news agency, he said they would be tried within a month and if convicted of “moharebeh,” crimes against Islam and the state, would be sentenced to death. Conviction on lesser charges could mean 10 years in prison, he said.

Mr. Mortazavi said the suspects had been trained in 21 sessions to carry out assassinations, plant bombs, drive cars and motorcycles professionally and use special cameras, computers and satellite equipment. Three additional suspects are under surveillance, he said.

The leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Monday that its intelligence bureau had detected the spy ring.

Mr. Mortazavi said Tuesday that the inquiry started six months earlier.

Assessing the strength of the government’s case is difficult. The Israeli government has declined to comment on it.

Iran’s announcement was made amid severe tension between Israel and Iran, which does not recognize Israel and whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is hostile to it.

Israel, which has a nuclear arsenal, has said it is convinced that Iran will soon be able to make nuclear weapons.

Last week, Iran executed Ali Ashtari, who had been convicted of spying for Israel, and warned that its war with Israel had become “more serious.”

On Tuesday, Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, discussed “the danger of Israel” with Lebanon’s president, Michel Suleiman.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

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