Iran announced on Tuesday that three “Mossad agents” it arrested back in April will soon stand trial. The announcement did not specify the nationality of the detainees, nor did it detail with what exactly they are to be charged.
The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that the three were spies linked to the Israeli intelligence agency in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, near the country’s border with Pakistan.
Mehdi Shamsabadi, the prosecutor general of the province, told local outlets: “The three were planning to assassinate our nuclear scientists according to intelligence assessments.”
The judiciary official noted that their arrest was part of a large operation and that an investigation into their case is still ongoing.
“The arrest of these Mossad operatives came after a complicated intelligence operation that lasted for eight months of monitoring them,” said Shamsabadi, according to Iran’s Mehr News Agency.
“The case is currently in the preliminary investigation stage and an indictment will be issued and sent to the court soon,” he added.
The announcement comes following a series of assassinations of Iranian officials that were attributed to Israel. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Iran suspects that Israel was behind the poisoning of two of its nuclear scientists, Ayoob Entezari and Kamran Aghamolaei. The two died within days of each other in the intensive care units of hospitals in two different cities several weeks ago, under circumstances that remain unclear.
Entezari was employed at a research and development center in Yazd, where he was reportedly working on developing missiles and drones. He developed symptoms of food poisoning after attending a dinner. Aghamolaei, a geologist, died after developing food poisoning symptoms. According to some Israeli media and Iranian news channels based abroad, Aghamolaei worked at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which Israel is believed to have targeted in the past.
In addition, last month, a senior member of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei – was killed outside his home in Tehran. Iran vowed to avenge his death, in what led to increased threats against Israelis vacationing in Turkey.
The Islamic Republic oftentimes reports that it has managed to arrest operatives in the country, claiming that they have been working on behalf of Israeli or U.S. Intelligence. In some incidents, such alleged “spies” have been executed by Iranian authorities.