By SOMAYEH MALEKIAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — An Iranian national has been sentenced to death in Iran after being convicted of providing information to the CIA and Mossad, including information on the location of the country’s slain top commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani — but Iranian officials later clarified that the alleged spy’s conviction is not linked to the killing of Soleimani by U.S. forces.
The announcement was made Tuesday by the judiciary of the Islamic Republic.
“Recently, Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, one of the spies of the CIA and the Mossad, was sentenced to death for receiving American dollars in return for gathering information on Iran’s security and military forces … and passing it to the Mossad and the CIA,” Iran judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaili said.
He did not say when exactly Mousavi Majd will be put to death, but said that his sentence has been upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court, so he will “soon” be executed.
On Jan. 3, a U.S. drone strike in Iraq killed Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force — the special unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that carries out its international missions — along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, and five others.
Iran later retaliated against the U.S. drone strike by targeting a U.S. military base in Iraq with ballistic missiles.
After Tuesday’s announcement of Mousavi Majd’s sentence, Iranian judiciary officials clarified in a statement that Mousavi Majd’s arrest was not related to the U.S. drone strike in which Soleimani was killed, according to Mehr News Agency, but to crimes committed before the U.S. strike.
“Mousavi Majd was arrested in October 2018 … and has never been released since then,” the statement says.
The statement has led to speculations that Mousavi Majd might have been one of the 17 spies whose arrest was announced by Iran intelligence last July.
In a July press conference, the director of counterespionage for the Islamic Republic intelligence ministry said that 17 spies working for the CIA were arrested and some of them could face the death penalty. The name of the director was not disclosed.
Those arrested worked as staff at sensitive centers in the country, including “economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber fields or their counterparts in the private sector,” the intelligence officer said.
President Donald Trump immediately refuted Iran’s claim at the time, describing it as “totally false” with “zero truth.”
“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!” Trump wrote in a tweet.
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