Iran’s minister of intelligence Esmail Khatib said Sunday that secret services are holding “spies from Sweden, France and Britain,” referring to some Western hostages.

Without providing names or details about the detainees, the intelligence minister even claimed that despite foreign pressures some of the “spies have been executed.”

Iran executed Iranian-Swedish political activist and former leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA) Habib Chaab (Asyud) in May.

In January, Iran executed British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari, after sentencing the former Iranian deputy defense minister to death on charges of spying for Britain.

Khatib, who is a hardliner cleric, was addressing the 24th assembly of senior Revolutionary Guard officers in Tehran, where he praised Iran’s multiple intelligence services for working together to thwart “enemy conspiracies” and domestic threats.

Khatib reiterated the regime’s ideological precept that “the enemy” continues to plot against the Islamic Republic, which has become a “global power.” He claimed that “50 intelligence services” around the world have set up “Iran desks” to be able to confront “a new global power.”

The term “enemy” is a favorite word used by Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei to refer to the United States, Israel and their allies and partners, but Khatib did not elaborate about who these 50 adversaries around the world are.

Although Iran has released several European high-profile hostages this year, including French and Belgian prisoners held on spying charges, it is not clear how many more are left behind.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, who spoke in May after the release of two French hostages, said more work is needed “because there are, unfortunately, too many who are detained without reason in Iran.” Apparently, four French citizens and numerous other Europeans remain incarcerated in Iran.

While intelligence minister Khatib boasted about holding European “spies” he did not mention the five American hostages who were released into house arrest earlier this month after a deal with the Biden administration to unblock $6 billion of Iran’s money in South Korea.

The deal has triggered a lot of criticism in the United States, where politicians and some analysts have voiced fear that essentially paying $1.2 billion per hostage will embolden the Islamic Republic and other adversaries to take Americans hostage. Iranian hardliners certainly see the deal as ransom payment by the United States.

A firebrand senior ayatollah, Ahmad Alamolhoda on Friday called the release of Iran’s frozen funds by the US “a humiliation” and a “ransom” in exchange for “their spies.” The cleric is close to Khamenei and is the father-in-law of President Ebrahim Raisi.

Khatib also reiterated that “the enemy’s” aim is to destabilize Iran and reduce participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections in March. The regime has blamed anti-government protests on US and Israeli plots, while it killed more than 500 civilians, injured thousands and has arrested around 22,000 since last September.

Regime politicians and many analysts in Iran believe that voter turnout will be low in March, simply because hardliners prevented other regime loyalists to run both in the 2020 parliamentary and in the 2021 presidential elections. People see no real choice and are deeply angered by the current economic and political crises. They do not believe that Khamenei will change his Anti-West foreign policy and sanctions will continue to increase hardships they face.

Source » iranintl