An Iranian court has sentenced an unnamed person to six years in prison for relaying information on the country's nuclear program to a U.S. intelligence agent and a European country.
“A person who had met with American intelligence agents nine times to transfer various dossiers about economic sanctions and Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, has been sentenced to six years prison, and all sums of money acquired from espionage have been confiscated,” Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on February 4, according to Mehr News. Dolatabadi added that the person had also transferred documents to a European country.
Iran nabbing citizens suspected of espionage related to the country’s nuclear program is nothing new. In October 2017, a former member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team Abdol-Rasul Dorri Esfahani Najaf Abadi, was sentenced to five years in prison, on “charges of spying for foreign intelligence services and leaking information.”
Esfahani, who holds dual citizenship with Iran and Canada, was involved in the banking-related aspects of the negotiations that took place under the Obama administration and led to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the ‘nuclear deal’, in July 2015. Esfahani was a member of Iran’s Supervisory Board to Implement the JCPOA.
In December 2017, Iran’s Supreme Court had upheld a death sentence against Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic living in Sweden and convicted of providing information on Iran’s nuclear program to Israel. He was accused of passing information to Israel's Mossad intelligence service during the negotiations that led to Iran's nuclear deal with world powers in June 2015. Iranian authorities say that the information Djalali leaked was used by Israel to assassinate several of its senior nuclear scientists.
At the time, Djalali said the charges were bogus and claimed he was being punished for refusing to spy for Iran while working in Europe.
By signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as “the nuclear agreement,” Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related sanctions. Meanwhile, Iranian hardliners, who dominate the judiciary and the intelligence apparatus, have opposed the nuclear deal that was signed during President Hassan Rouhani’s first term.
Israel and the U.S. have long been critics of Iran's nuclear ambitions, claiming that Tehran has been aiming to build nuclear weapons. Tehran has consistently denied the allegations, saying that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.
Four Iranian scientists involved in the country's nuclear program were murdered in bomb and gun attacks in Tehran between 2010 and 2012. In all cases, Iran accused the U.S. and Israel of killing the scientists.
In 2012, an Iranian citizen named Majid Jamali Fashi was hung after being convicted of working for Mossad and assassinating one of the above-mentioned nuclear scientists, Masoud Alimohammadi.
In August 2016, Iran executed an Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, convicted of handing over "top secret" information to the United States. Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia in June 2009 and resurfaced a year later in the United States. When Amiri returned to Tehran in July 2010, he said that he had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Farsi-speaking CIA agents in the Saudi city of Medina.