Iran claimed on Monday it had exposed a large cyber espionage network which was allegedly run by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), adding that several US spies had been arrested in different countries as the result of this action, Reuters reports.
The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, said, according to the report, “One of the most complicated CIA cyber espionage networks that had an important role in the CIA’s operations in different countries was exposed by the Iranian intelligence agencies a while ago and was dismantled.”
“We shared the information about the exposed network with our allies that led to the identification and arrest of CIA intelligence agents,” he added, as quoted by the state broadcaster IRIB.
Shamkhani did not specify how many CIA agents were arrested and in what countries.
He also said, without elaborating, that some information about the case had been released by the United States, so Iran could now publish the information for the sake of public awareness.
The announcement comes amid tensions between the US and Iran, a year after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
In addition, tensions between the two longtime foes has increased after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.
Iran regularly says it captured spies, and sometimes those are sentenced to death. In 2016, the Islamic Republic arrested a member of the negotiating team that reached a nuclear deal with world powers on suspicion of spying.
In June of 2012, Iran claimed to have dismantled a terrorist and sabotage network in the southern city of Shiraz, which allegedly planned bombings and assassination attempts during Iran’s presidential election.
Iran moved to boost its cyber capabilities in 2011 after the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in its nuclear program.
Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation, though Israel did not admit to being behind it. A 2012 report said that then-US President Barack Obama ordered the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran as part of a wave of cyber sabotage and espionage against the Islamic Republic.