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Iran says several suspected U.S. spies face possible death sentences

Iran says several suspected U.S. spies face possible death sentences
FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sits for an interview with Reuters in New York, New York, U.S. April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo -
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Carlo Allegri(Reuters)
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DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for several suspects arrested last year for spying for the United States in military and nuclear bodies, state media reported on Tuesday, as tensions rise with Washington over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Iran said in August it had arrested “tens of spies” in state bodies, many of whom were dual nationals.

In June, Iran said it executed a former contract employee of the defence ministry aerospace body on charges of spying for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said an unspecified number of suspects, arrested less than a year ago, faced possible death sentences in military tribunals, state television reported.

“Two of the defendants, who were not military, have received long prison terms,” Esmaili added, without giving details.

Iran announced on Monday it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted under a 2015 nuclear deal, a move denounced by President Donald Trump as “playing with fire” amid concerns about deepening U.S.-Iranian confrontation.

The initiative marked Tehran’s first major shift from the provisions of the pact since the United States pulled out of it more than a year ago.

However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the move was not a violation of the accord, arguing that Iran was exercising its right to respond to the U.S. walkout.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom, Editing by William Maclean)

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