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Iran Arrested 'Tens Of Spies' In Government Bodies, Minister Says

Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmud Alavi (file photo)

Security forces have arrested "tens of spies" working in Iran's governmental bodies as part of a crackdown on espionage and dual nationals, the country’s intelligence minister has said.

"Financially and through other means, our enemies try to get information on our country," Mahmud Alavi said in an interview on state television late on August 28.

Alavi did not say when the arrests were made or which countries the spies allegedly were working for, but indicated that many of those arrested were dual nationals.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality and does not routinely announce arrests of or charges against dual nationals.

The Reuters news agency reported in 2017 that Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had arrested at least 30 dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage charges.

Alavi's latest comments come as tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since May when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers and started reimposing earlier this month U.S. sanctions that had been lifted under the accord.

Dual nationals working in official positions must be identified and rooted out, according to Alavi.

"If you know anyone, tell us about them," the minister said.

Alavi also said several plots to bomb metro stations and universities had been foiled, without making any of the incidents public at the time.

He also said that Iranian security forces arrested a member of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in southern Iran this month, and disbanded a "terrorist cell" in the country's north.

In June 2017, terrorist attacks claimed by the Sunni Muslim group killed 18 people at the parliament building in Tehran and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's mausoleum south of the capital.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP