Iran has hanged a CIA informer said to be a former member of the military unit that downed the US drone on Thursday.
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Iran’s Judiciary Unit for Armed Forces confirmed an earlier report by Iran Human Rights organisation (IRH) that Seyyed Jamal Haji-Zavareh was executed last week on charges of "spying for an enemy state and the CIA”.
Hajizavareh was reportedly executed at the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, west of Tehran.
The justice department has denied Haji-Zavareh had been a senior member of the military unit and has referred to him as “a subcontracted former employee of the Ministry of Defence who had left his job nine years ago”.
However, according to the rights group, prior to his arrest in September 2017, Seyed Jamal (also known as Siavash) Haji-Zavareh was an employee of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He had been arrested along with his wife, Leila Tajik.
The force was established in the late 1980s after the end of Iran-Iraq war as part of theIRGC’s air force and is currently in charge of Iran’s strategic missile forces.
Pictures on Iranian national TV today showed the commander of the Guards’ aerospace division General Amirali Hajizadeh inspecting the retrieved sections of the US surveillance drone and admitting that his force’s missile had downed it on Thursday.
Iran has accused US of violating its national sovereignty by flying the drone over the waters of the Strait of Hormuz, but Washington has maintained that the spying unmanned plane had been in international airspace when hit by a missile.
“A well-informed source told IHR Jamal was held in a place called the death cell. He was tortured severely”, the rights group said, adding that Jamal’s wife, Leila Tajik, has been sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment and is held at Kachouei prison of Tehran.
“They could not have a lawyer of their own choice,” the source said, “Siavash (Seyed Jamal) was in solitary confinement at an unknown place owned by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.”
The report comes days after Iran said it had dismantled a "new" US spy network in the country linked to the CIA, amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington.
In what it termed a "wide-reaching blow" to US intelligence, state news agency IRNA said on Tuesday that Tehran had carried out the operation in cooperation with "foreign allies", without naming any state.
President Donald Trump said Friday the United States was "cocked & loaded" to strike Iran but pulled back at the last minute as it would not have been a "proportionate" response to Tehran’s shooting down of the unmanned drone.
The downing of the drone came after tensions spiked between the two countries following a series of attacks on oil tankers the US has blamed on Iran.