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Iran arrests 'tens of spies' in new intelligence crackdown against dual nationals

Tensions have been high between Iran and the US since Trump reimposed sanctions [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 August, 2018

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Iranian authorities have arrested tens of dual-nationals accused of 'infiltrating' Iranian state bodies.

Iran's intelligence agency says it has arrested "tens of spies" working in state bodies, as conservatives continue to tighten their control over the country.

Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi did not specify when or why the arrests took place, but alluded that many of those arrested were dual nationals.

"I have repeatedly asked people to inform us if they know any dual national. The intelligence ministry's anti-espionage unit has successfully identified and arrested tens of spies in different governmental bodies," news agency ISNA quoted Alavi as saying.

Arrests of dual nationals increased following comments made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that Western agents had "infiltrated" Iranian government bodied.

Tensions have been high between the US and Iran after Trump pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal earlier this year. 

The US reimposed a wave of tough unilateral sanctions against Iran on 7 August, bringing into effect penalties that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear accord.

The first of two rounds of US sanctions targeted Iran's access to US banknotes.

The impact of the return of sanctions has also ramped up political tensions inside Iran, which has seen days of protests and strikes in multiple towns and cities over water shortages, inflation, and wider anger at the government.

Severe reporting restrictions have made it impossible to verify the swirl of claims coming through social media.

Conservatives have used the opportunity to arrest moderate politicians and strengthen their hold over government insitutions and distract from current economic woes.

Dual nationals, or Iranians who have dealt with the West, have been particular targets of the sweeps, with many moderates arrested on corruption charges.

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