Iran arrests alleged international spies linked to protests

Government sentences second Mahsa Amini demonstrator to death

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Iran on Wednesday said it had arrested French and Israeli intelligence agents linked to nationwide protests.

Authorities in Tehran have accused western states of stoking the demonstrations after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian. She was arrested by the morality police for allegedly not abiding by the country's strict dress code.

“People of other nationalities were arrested in the riots, some of whom played a big role,” said Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's Interior Minister.

“There were elements from the French intelligence agency and they will be dealt with according to the law."

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tehran was acting increasingly aggressively towards France as it continued to detain its citizens, destabilising the region as a result.

"I see an increasing aggressiveness from Iran towards us with its [Iran's] unacceptable hostage taking [and] a regional aggressiveness ... with extremely aggressive acts in the last few days on Iraqi soil," Mr Macron told reporters at the end of a G20 leaders summit in Indonesia.

"I urge Iran to return to calm and a spirit of co-operation. I call it to respect regional stability and also French citizens."

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said it arrested a person allegedly tied to Israel's intelligence services, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The IRGC said the alleged spy was arrested in the south-eastern province of Kerman, without specifying their nationality or the time of the arrest.

Meanwhile, Iran's judiciary sentenced three anti-government protesters in Tehran to death on various charges such as "corruption on Earth" and "waging war on God" on Wednesday, Iranian state media reported, adding that the three could appeal their verdicts.

The violence is linked to protests that flared over Ms Amini's death.

Up to 19 of the thousands of people arrested in Tehran and Karaj cities for taking part in protests ignited by the death of Ms Amini, on September 16, face the death penalty, state media reported.

At least 10 protesters have been charged with offences that carry the death penalty, including one found guilty of “waging war against God” or “corruption on Earth” for damaging public property, said the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Iranian security forces shot dead at least three protesters on Tuesday, one rights group said, as protests caused by Ms Amini's death grew on the anniversary of a bloody 2019 crackdown.

Cities across went on strike on Tuesday to commemorate the anniversary, with the protest action expected to last for three days.

The development comes as Australia's ambassador was summoned by Tehran over comments made by the Australian Prime Minister regarding the protest movement, Iran's Foreign Ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said “it seems that the Prime Minister of Australia has taken a wrong approach based on false information, which does not help the relations between the two countries”, the semi-official Nournews news agency reported.

Several foreign diplomats in Iran have been summoned over comments made by their officials on the death of Ms Amini and the ensuing protests.

Updated: November 16, 2022, 3:04 PM
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