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Report: Iran cites CIA in radio arrests

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arrests came in an "intelligence ministry operation," ILNA reports
  • ILNA: Some "had been officially employed by the U.S. intelligence service"
  • Radio Farda director says it has no employees in Iran, sees "crackdown of journalists"

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Seven people, including some accused of having ties to a U.S.-backed Farsi-language radio station, were arrested in Tehran, according to Iranian media reports.

The seven "worked as liaisons for anti-revolution satellite organizations and Zionist media," the semi-official Iran Labour News Agency (ILNA) reported Sunday. The people were connected "with the conspiracy," ILNA said, referring to recent anti-government protests in Iran.

The arrests came in an "intelligence ministry operation," ILNA said. "These people were connected with Radio Farda and had gone through the process of selection and training in Dubai and Istanbul and some of them had been officially employed by the U.S. intelligence service."

However, Radio Farda's director, Armand Mostofi, told CNN Sunday it has no employees inside Iran. Radio Farda is based in Prague, Czech Republic, and in Washington. It is affiliated with Radio Free Europe, and broadcasts from Prague. Mostofi said he first heard of the arrests in Iranian news reports.

"A lot of our news comes from the relationships with our listeners," he said. "It's a two-way relationship. Hundreds of thousands of our listeners call in to inform us of what is going in Iran."

He said Iran has consistently blocked the station's Web site and has tried to jam their satellite signal.

"The crackdown of journalists in Iran has worsened in the aftermath of the presidential elections," Mostofi said. "Iran used to be the largest prison for journalists in the Mideast, and unfortunately, has become the largest prison in the world for journalists."

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Iran's state-owned Press TV reported the seven included "two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives." The group planned to "stoke unrest and violence on a march scheduled for February 11," according to the report. That date marks the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah.

There was no immediate reaction to the reports from the United States.

CNN's Mitra Mobasherat contributed to this report.

 
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