Iranian officials announced Monday that 17 people who were allegedly spies working for the CIA have been captured.
The Iranian Intelligence Ministry held a briefing Monday at which they said the alleged spies are Iranian citizens but trained by the CIA.
It was not immediately clear when they were arrested.
The Iranian government occasionally makes similar claims and it was not immediately possible to determine whether they are legitimate. The U.S. government never acknowledges CIA recruitment abroad but President Donald Trump blasted the reported arrests on Twitter as “totally false.”
The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019
At Monday’s briefing held by Iran’s head of counterespionage, an official claimed the 17 accused were lured into spying while applying for or renewing U.S. visas or while attending conferences abroad with promises of money and opportunities to work in the United States.
The accused were given surveillance equipment by handlers to place in sensitive government locations and received “extensive training” by the CIA in order to communicate from Iran without being detected, officials claimed. They were also given fake identification.
Some of those captured agreed to cooperate with Iranian authorities and are now helping to work against the U.S., officials said.
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