Iran arrests nuclear negotiator suspected of spying

The suspect was released on bail after a few days in jail but is still under investigation.

August 28, 2016 15:36
2 minute read.
A SATELLITE view of the Fordow nuclear plant

A SATELLITE view of Iran's Fordow nuclear plant.. (photo credit: GOOGLE)

Iran has arrested a member of the negotiating team that reached a landmark nuclear deal with world powers on suspicion of spying, a judiciary spokesman said on Sunday.

The suspect was released on bail after a few days in jail but is still under investigation, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said at a weekly news conference, calling the unidentified individual a "spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team," state media reported.

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The deal that President Hassan Rouhani struck last year has given Iran relief from most international sanctions in return for curbing its nuclear program, but it is opposed by hardliners who see it as a capitulation to the United States.

Ejei was responding to a question about an Iranian lawmaker's assertion last week that a member of the negotiation team who had dual nationality had been arrested on espionage charges.

Tehran's prosecutor general on Aug. 16 announced the arrest of a dual national he said was linked to British intelligence, but made no mention of the person being in the nuclear negotiations team. On Sunday, Ejei did not explicitly confirm that the arrested person had a second nationality.

Britain said on August 16 that it was trying to find out more about the arrest of a joint-national.

Earlier in August, Iran executed an Iranian nuclear scientist who had been detained since 2010 when he returned home from the United States, after a court convicted him of spying for Washington.

"Through his connection with the United States, (Shahram) Amiri gave vital information about the country to the enemy," Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference, state news agency IRNA reported.

Mohseni Ejei said a court had sentenced Amiri to death and the sentence had been upheld by Iran's Supreme court, IRNA said.

Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009, and later surfaced in the United States. But he returned to Iran in 2010 and received a hero's welcome before being arrested.

A US official said in 2010 that Washington had received "useful information" from Amiri.

Iran had accused the CIA of kidnapping Amiri. US officials said Amiri had been free to come and go as he pleased, and that he may have returned because of pressures on his family in Iran.

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