Iranian security agents arrested at least eight people linked to the CIA during last week’s deadly unrest over petrol price increases, the official news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday.
“These elements had received CIA-funded training in various countries under the cover of becoming citizen-journalists,” it quoted the intelligence ministry as saying. “Six were arrested while attending the riots and carrying out [CIA] orders and two while trying to … send information abroad.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – in his strongest remarks since the unrest peaked – described the two weeks of violence as the work of a “very dangerous conspiracy”.
“The people foiled a deep, vast and very dangerous conspiracy on which a lot of money was spent for destruction, viciousness and the killing of people,” Khamenei said.
The Iranian leader was speaking at a gathering of the Basij – a militia loyal to the Islamic Republic’s establishment. The Revolutionary Guard’s all-volunteer Basij force helped significantly to put down the demonstrations.
Death toll unknown
Iran’s government still has not offered any statistics on deaths and injuries in the protests and security crackdown that followed government-set petrol prices rising by 50 percent on November 15.
New York-based Human Rights Watch on Wednesday accused the Iranian authorities of “deliberately covering up” the extent of the crackdown.
HRW called on authorities to “immediately announce the number of deaths, arrests, and detentions … and permit an independent inquiry into alleged abuses”.