Iranian Flag (R)_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
TEHRAN - Iran has arrested 30 people it said were spying for the United States, official media reported on Saturday.
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"The Intelligence Ministry's active and pious forces, in their ardent confrontations with the agents of the CIA ... arrested 30 people who were spies for America," state television's lunchtime news announced.
According to the semi-official Fars news agency, the suspects had passed information to US officials at embassies and consulates in third countries, including Malaysia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
It said Iran had identified 42 US intelligence officers in such countries, saying: "they engage in collection of information regarding Iran's nuclear, aerospace defense and bio-technology fields," among other areas of interest.
Spying in Iran can carry the death penalty.
Diplomatic cables published by the WikiLeaks website showed the United
States operated information-gathering desks on Iran in neighboring
countries where diplomats would seek to glean intelligence from
The announcement of the arrests comes two days after US President Barack
Obama made a speech on the Middle East
, reiterating Washington's view
that Tehran sponsors terrorism and is seeking nuclear weapons, charges