Iran executes four accused of working with Israeli intelligence

Iran and Israel are arch-foes and Tehran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are working for foreign powers (Majid Asgaripour - Reuters)

Maziar Motamedi

Al-Jazeera  /  December 4, 2022

The individuals allegedly received payment in cryptocurrencies to buy weapons and engage in kidnappings.

Tehran, Iran – Iran has executed four people and handed prison sentences to three others accused of working with Israeli intelligence.

The four individuals – identified as Hossein Ordoukhanzadeh, Shahin Imani Mahmoudabad, Milad Ashrafi Atbatan, and Manouchehr Shahbandi Bojandi – were hanged early on Sunday, according to the official news website of the judiciary.

The judiciary called them “thugs” and said they were guided by Israeli intelligence when they engaged in destroying public and private property, theft, kidnappings, and obtaining fake confessions. They received their instructions from a Mossad operative based in Sweden, it said.

According to the judiciary, all the individuals had a history of crimes, with Ordoukhanzadeh – the alleged main link with Mossad – having been imprisoned in Greece between 2014 and 2017 for attempting to traffic humans from Turkey to Greece.

They allegedly received payment in the form of cryptocurrencies and bought weapons and equipment while receiving training on how to destroy evidence, evade security cameras, and swap vehicles, something the Iranian judiciary said underlines Mossad’s role.

Their cases were referred to the Supreme Court, which confirmed the sentences carried out on Sunday. The judiciary announced the verdicts on Wednesday.

‘Committing crimes’

In addition to the four who were executed, three more – who remained unnamed – received prison sentences of five to 10 years for “committing crimes against national security, being accessories in kidnappings, and possession of firearms”.

Iran and Israel are regional arch-foes and Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are working for foreign powers, also including the United States and its European allies.

The executions come as Iran continues to deal with over two months of protests that erupted in mid-September after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was arrested by the country’s morality police for alleged non-compliance with a mandatory dress code.

Iran has accused the US, Israel, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia of being behind the unrest, and 40 foreign nationals have been arrested during “riots” since September, according to the judiciary.

But Sunday’s executions do not appear to be directly tied with the demonstrations as the individuals were reportedly arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the intelligence ministry about six months ago.

Maziar Motamedi is a Tehran-based journalist who covers Iran