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Iran announces breakup of ‘CIA spy ring,’ some sentenced to death

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Iran has captured 17 spies allegedly working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and some have been sentenced to death, Iranian media reported on Monday, amid soaring tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The agencies “successfully dismantled a (CIA) spy network,” the head of counter-intelligence at the Iranian intelligence ministry, whose identity was not revealed, told reporters in Tehran.

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“Those who deliberately betrayed the country were handed to the judiciary… some were sentenced to death and some to long-term imprisonment.”

The announcement comes as Iran-US tensions soar after the United States withdrew unilaterally from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed economic sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The suspects had been “employed at sensitive and crucial centres and also the private sector related to them, working as contractors or consultants,” said the official.

Iranian state television published images it said showed the CIA officers who were in touch with the suspected spies.

There was no immediate comment on the Iranian allegations by the CIA or US officials.

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Iran announced in June that it had broken up an alleged CIA spy ring but it was unclear whether Monday’s announcement was linked to the same case.

The announcement comes after three months of spiralling confrontation between Iran and the West that began when new tighter US sanctions took effect in May.

Last week Iran captured a British tanker after Britain’s Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker on July 4.

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In a statement read on state television, the Ministry of Intelligence said 17 spies were arrested during the Iranian calendar year that ended in March 2019.

“The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information,” read the ministry statement.

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In a separate report, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a Ministry of Intelligence official as saying some of those arrested had been sentenced to death.

An Iranian television documentary aired on Monday purported to show a CIA officer recruiting an Iranian man in the United Arab Emirates.

“Because there are so many intelligence officers in Dubai. It is very dangerous… Iranian intelligence,” a woman was shown telling an Iranian in the documentary about alleged CIA spying in Iran which was broadcast on state television.

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John Bolton had concerns about Donald Trump’s favors to autocrats: report

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Former national security advisor John Bolton privately told the US attorney general last year about concerns that President Donald Trump was essentially granting favors to autocrats, The New York Times reported Monday.

It said the revelations, concerning the leaders of China and Turkey, come in an unpublished book manuscript by Bolton.

The same manuscript says Trump told Bolton that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security aid to Ukraine until officials there helped to investigate his political rivals, the Times previously reported.

Those allegations have roiled Trump's impeachment trial that is ongoing in the US Senate.

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Fox News host scolds Mike Pompeo for scuffle with reporter: ‘Don’t be such a baby!’

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Fox News host Steve Hilton scolded Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for being a "baby," a "bully" and an "embarrassment" after NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly reported that he berated and cursed at her for asking questions about the Ukraine scandal.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got into an ugly dustup with an NPR reporter this week, and I've got something I want to get off my chest," Fox's Steve Hilton told his viewers on Sunday.

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White House grants press access to Christian site whose founder called impeachment a ‘Jew coup’

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The White House granted press credentials to a Christian news site whose founder claimed that President Donald Trump's impeachment was a "Jew coup" organized by a "Jewish cabal" in anti-Semitic remarks.

Five employees of the Florida-based conservative Christian news outlet TruNews received press credentials from the White House to cover Trump's trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, founder Rick Wiles told The New York Times from a ski lodge reserved for press members by the Trump administration. The outlet was not granted special access to Trump, though TruNews' Edward Szall asked Ivanka Trump a question during a news conference, according to the report.

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