Arresting Iranians on charges of espionage has gained momentum in Iran while Tehran is struggling with a scandal related to forcing inmates to admit cooperation with "hostile governments."
Two Iranians accused of spying for Israel's Mossad have been sentenced to prison in Iran, the spokesman of Iran's judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaeili disclosed on Tuesday, August 27.
One of the detainees according to Esmaeili is Ms. Anousheh Ashouri, a dual Iranian-British national.
Without going into the details, Esmaeili maintained that Ms. Ashouri had been sentenced to ten years for passing information to Israel's Mossad.
English speaking state-run Press TV also cited Esmaeili as saying that Ms. Ashouri was sentenced to another two years for receiving $36,600 from Mossad, and fined for the same amount.
The British foreign ministry voiced support for Ashouri, saying its embassy is doing everything to help. "We have been supporting the family of a British-Iranian dual national...and our Embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access," a spokesman for Britain's foreign ministry said in a statement.
The second detainee, named as Ali Johari, also got ten years imprisonment for a myriad of espionage activities, including "extensive relationship with Mossad's agents and meeting them across the world.
"Johari has met Israeli operatives in India, Laos, and Sri Lanka, among other countries, and visited the 'occupied lands' (the term used for Israel in Iran)," Press TV cited Esmaeili as noting.
Furthermore, Esmaeili claimed that the process for granting Israeli citizenship to Ali Johari was underway when he was "captured" by Iran's intelligence agents.
So far, there are even no photos of the two detainees.
Esmaeili stopped short of revealing the name of the intelligence organization responsible for the latest arrests.
In Iran, at least two intelligence organizations, including the fearsome intelligence organization affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), operate alongside the official Ministry of Intelligence.
In the absence of independent observers, free media and due process of law, it is impossible to evaluate claims made by Iran's judicial and security agencies.
The arrest of Iranians accused of espionage has increased since Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed last year that "Western agents" had "infiltrated" into the country.
Almost all of those arrested for espionage in recent years are Iranians with dual citizenship. Human Rights organizations have repeatedly accused Iran of "taking hostage" Iranian dual nationals, to use them as bargaining chips later.
The Iranian-American citizens currently behind bars in Iran include a Dubai-based businessman, Siamak Namazi, his octogenarian father, Baquer, and the renowned ecologist, Morad Tahbaz.
Meanwhile, 41-year-old mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Kamal Fproughi, and Kameel Ahmady are among dual Iranian-British nationals currently held in custody by the Iran's intelligence organizations.
Moreover, a London-based British Council employee, Ms. Aras Amiri, was also arrested during a family visit to Iran last May.
Aras Amiri, a 32-year-old Iranian national, was visiting her home country to see her ailing grandmother before the Persian new year, in March, when she was detained, charged with spying, and sentenced to ten years.
The new arrests have taken place in Iran while a heated debate is underway in the country over detaining innocent individuals and forcing them to confess according to the scenarios written by their interrogators.
One of the victims, Maziar Ebrahimi, recently disclosed that Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents had tortured him and eleven others into confessing on TV that they had assassinated an Iranian nuclear scientist in collaboration with Israeli secret agents.
Ebrahimi who is now living in Germany said he and other inmates were released from jail after two years when another government body found out during an investigation that the case against them was fabricated by the Intelligence Ministry.
He also charged that Intelligence Ministry agents got $50,000 from his family only to tell them his whereabouts while he was in jail.