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Iran alleges spies linked to elite Israeli unit

/ Source: The Associated Press

Iranian official media said Tuesday that one of the detained members of an alleged Israeli-linked espionage network was involved with the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Iran said Monday it had uncovered three members of an alleged network who were trained by Israeli intelligence agents but claimed they were detained before they could relay any information to Israel.

The official state news agency IRNA quoted Tehran General Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi as saying the network formed after Israel's Mossad spy agency recruited a man who had "previously been in connection with the Guards."

The Revolutionary Guards, which have land, navy and air components, are considered better equipped than the normal military and more ideologically fervent. The unit is tasked with protecting Iran's Islamic government, which is dominated by hard-line clerics.

Mortazavi alleged the network planned to bomb military sites and assassinate military experts and said they now face capital punishment.

"Since Israel is the enemy of the Iranian people, the prosecutor's office will ask for their execution," he said, adding that their trial would start after the Guards finish an investigation.

Israel: No information
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: "Israel has no information about this matter and does not intend to comment on every unverifiable item that is published."

Iran's state TV showed video footage of devices such as GPS equipment, satellite telephone, laser distance-meter and oscilloscope and said they belonged to the alleged network.

Earlier this month, Iran executed an Iranian electronics salesman convicted of relaying information on the country's nuclear program to the Mossad.

Iran and Israel have long been enemies. But the ruling against the salesman was the first time since 2000 that an Iranian court has convicted an Iranian citizen of charges of spying for Israel.

A court in 2000 convicted 10 Iranian Jews of spying for Israel in a closed-door trial and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. All were released before serving their full sentences.

Rumors of planned attacks
The latest allegations come amid rumors of Israeli intentions to attack Iran's nuclear facilities because of suspicion that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

Iran denies that, saying its program is for peaceful purposes such as generating power.

Earlier this year, Israel Aerospace Industries unveiled its Eitam airplane, which is equipped with sophisticated intelligence-gathering systems. Israel also launched an advanced spy satellite in January able to track events even at night and in cloudy weather — all of which could be used to spy on Iran.

In 1981, an Israeli air attack destroyed an unfinished nuclear reactor in Iraq. Israel also hit a suspected nuclear facility in Syria in September 2007.