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Azerbaijan Exposes Secret Spy Network Set Up by Iran’s Special Services

By Ilham Karimli November 15, 2022

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The building of the State Security Service of Azerbaijan in the capital Baku / State Security Service of Azerbaijan

The State Security Service of Azerbaijan has exposed a spy network created by the special services of Iran.

An investigation conducted identified five Azerbaijani citizens were paid to cooperate with the Iranian special services. Three of them traveled to various cities of Iran for different purposes such as medical treatment and religious education, before they were involved in treasonous activities against Azerbaijan.

“It was determined that Asgarov Zahir Fakhreddin oglu, who worked as a ship captain in the Caspian Sea Oil Fleet [of Azerbaijan], was involved in secret cooperation by the representatives of the special service of the mentioned country [Iran] in exchange for financial compensation during his religious education in Qom, Iran,” the State Security Service said in a statement on Monday.

“During the past period, he collected information about the companies and representative offices of foreign countries operating in our country, the location and time of the exercises conducted by the Navy in the Caspian Sea, and the cargoes transported to the oil rigs in order to use them to the detriment of the sovereignty and defense capability of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Zahir Asgarov committed treason against the state in the form of espionage by providing the mentioned information through a mobile phone, as well as directly during meetings with those persons [special service officers] in Iran.”

According to the information, the Iranian special services have also paid to recruit Rasulov Elnur Akif oglu, who also later involved his relative Rasulov Arif Amrah oglu who cooperate with him in secret to obtain photos and videos of the areas along the routes of oil and gas pipelines in the capital Baku, the storage locations of the drones, tanks, and other armored equipment of the Azerbaijani army and State Border Service, the equipment displayed at the "Teknofest" Aviation, Space and Technology festival in Baku, as well as other strategic and military objects, anti-aircraft missile complexes, radar-monitoring devices. The spies reportedly used WhatsApp to communicate with their curators.

At the same time, the investigation established that the citizen of Azerbaijan, Aghazade Bakhtiyar, also joined the spy network by collecting information about political processes, military units, their locations, and assignments, as well as the command staff of the Azerbaijani army and submitting them to special service members in Iran. It was also determined that Azerbaijani citizen Jafarzadeh Mirhafiz Mirisag oglu had fulfilled the tasks assigned by Orkhan Mammadov Kemran oglu, who has been put on the international wanted list and is currently hiding in Iran, for specifying the location of military objects and sending the collected data to the latter through messaging application Telegram.

All of the suspects have been charged with criminal responsibility and arrested under Article 274 (treason) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.

The exposed spy network is not the first development to create tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan.

Earlier on November 1, the State Security Service exposed a clandestine group of Azerbaijani citizens that were illegally involved in military exercises outside the country under direct financing and guidance by the Iranian special services. Nineteen citizens of Azerbaijan were detained and brought to justice for attending military exercises, smuggling banned radical extremist ideology books and video materials, and disseminating them within the borders of Azerbaijan. Four more people, who fled Azerbaijan and are currently hiding in Iran, were established as the leaders of the illegal group.

Furthermore, recently, the Iranian hacker group "Black Rewards" has revealed documents related to the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of Iran, including papers of bank payments to the accounts of Tehran’s agents in Azerbaijan.

According to the leaked documents, in January and March 2022, payments worth €47,158 and €75,000 were made to bank accounts in Baku and €15,083 and €30,000 to those in Nakhchivan. In April 2022, €40,000 more were transferred to a bank account in Baku. All transfers have been reportedly made from the National Bank of Iran.