February 7, 2010 / 12:27 PM / in 8 years

Iran arrests people hired by CIA - IRNA

TEHRAN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Iran said on Sunday it had arrested seven people accused of stoking unrest after last year’s disputed election, including some who were hired by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The arrests were reported before possible new anti-government protests on Feb. 11, when Iran marks the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah.

Opposition supporters have used such official occasions to try to revive their protests over the poll last June, which they say was rigged to secure the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The authorities have rejected the vote fraud charge and portrayed the huge demonstrations that erupted after the vote as a foreign-backed attempt to undermine the Islamic Republic. They have made clear they will not tolerate more such unrest.

Western countries have dismissed allegations of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs.

"Seven people organisationally linked to the counter-revolutionaries, the Zionist media and elements of the sedition have been arrested," IRNA quoted an Intelligence Ministry statement as saying, without naming them.

It said the detainees were also linked to a U.S.-backed Farsi-language radio station and had received training in Istanbul and Dubai, for example in disrupting public order, spreading rumours and conducting sabotage.

"A number of them were officially hired by the U.S. intelligence agency, the CIA," the statement said, adding that they had played an important role in ‘post-election riots’, particularly on the Shi‘ite mourning day of Ashura that fell on Dec. 27.

Eight people were killed in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters on that day, in the most serious violence since the aftermath of the June election.

Thousands of people were arrested after the June vote. More than 80 people, including senior reformist figures, have received jail terms of up to 15 years.

Last month, Iran hanged two people sentenced to death in post-vote trials. The West and human rights groups condemned the executions, accusing Iran of staging "show trials".

In a warning to the pro-reform opposition before the Feb. 11 anniversary, Iran’s police chief said on Saturday that his force would show no more tolerance towards anti-government protesters. (Writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by David Stamp)

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